Cortex Ventures at SITA GovTech 2019

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 25 October 2019 – Cortex Ventures CEO, Dr Nick Bradshaw, to Judge SMME Pitching Session at SITA GovTech 2019.

 Cortex Ventures CEO, Dr Nick Bradshaw, and Cortex Logic Senior Vice President of Sales, Juan du Toit, will be attending the official launch of SITA GovTech 2019 taking place at the Durban International Convention Centre from 27 to 30 October 2019. Dr Nick Bradshaw will be representing Cortex Ventures, Africa’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Venture Capital company, as a fellow judge in the SMME Pitching Session and speaker on the 29th of October 2019.

State Information Technology Agency (SITA) GovTech is a government initiative, pre-eminent public sector Information and Communications Technology (ICT) learning event and world-class platform aiding collaboration, capacity building and information sharing between government and the ICT sector. From its humble beginnings in 2006, the SITA GovTech conference has become a vital feature in the governmental planning cycle. Since then, the conference has become a strategic platform for thought-leadership, and has remained both steadfast and true to its founding philosophy:

To mobilize the public sector behind the need for government to adapt to and adopt innovative ways of serving citizens and delivering services, including the use of ICT technologies.

Dr Nick Bradshaw said, “This year’s event predominantly focuses on Digital Transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I’m excited to see how the theme, ‘Digital Transformation – Gearing Towards 4IR and Beyond’, will challenge attendees in their quest to position the public sector as the pioneers in the realization of the National Development Plan 2030 and the National ICT Policy White Paper. This policy framework calls for the creation of a digital society that will change mindsets, develop skills, promote innovation and transform the industry – with digital access, transformation and inclusivity as three critical core pillars”.

In Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies’ welcoming announcement, she highlights the need for Digital Skills Development to be a core output of the event’s programme. “Government welcomes the element of hackathons and other community initiatives within GovTech to encourage innovation and build a digital skills base. As a nation, we have lofty targets to meet in creating digital skill sets pertinent to the 4IR and digital economy”, she said.

She also emphasized that GovTech ensures that SMMEs and co-operates are drawn into the digital economy in order to realize digital inclusivity – participation has thus been extended to small businesses to partake, benefit and growth from their association with the event through, for example, the SMME Pitching Session. “It has been a regular sub-theme of the conference and that is laudable. In our efforts, we need to reach out to the remotest areas disadvantaged by geography and history (underdevelopment), and bring out hope for development, growth and transformation”, she added.

Dr Nick Bradshaw added, “Africa can truly benefit from leveraging cutting-edge Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and, we, as a community need to identify the gaps to create an AI pipeline for growth. Early investment funding plays a big role realizing the latter, and we see collaboration with other VCs, incubators, accelerators, academia, industry and government as key to job creation and economic growth. Cortex Ventures participation in SITA GovTech will play a crucial role in helping shape a better future for all”.

As government, through the Presidential Commission on the 4IR, assumes leadership and lays concrete foundations for the national response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the public sector becomes a critical stakeholder. It becomes important for the public sector to be mobilized, knowledgeable and competent to produce valuable input – essentially making SITA and GovTech a core vehicle to the national dialogue currently trending. President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “It is a new world of work that is reshaping the global economy and redefining the social relations. To succeed as people, we need a serious culture change”.

At the centre of the government’s focus, as they respond to the imperatives of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is a people-centred approach. Dr Nick Bradshaw added, “We need to be conscious of the national response to the 4IR, highlight how people are critical to social impact and make people’s attitudes, challenges, and needs the center of decision-making. That is how we’ll achieve a culture of change, aid people in embracing the benefits of 4IR and a digitally transforming state”.

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams continued, “As all stakeholders gather to deliberate, let us be reminded that digital transformation should be about our people and the impact of our decisions and actions on their well-being. Infrastructure and technology are merely a means to an end – to eradicate poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. We should continue the trajectory of GovTech being a platform to find solutions to government business problems including the use of digital technologies and other technology for the convenience of all our citizens”.

“As we do so, let us guard against any retrogressive tendencies which might render the conference either a government talk shop or a sales and marketing pitch for the industry. There is a need to remain true to the priorities of the sixth administration and harness the GovTech platform as a vehicle for expediting government outcomes including localization of new technologies, ensuring that SMMEs are drawn into the digital economy, supporting the e-commerce and implementing e-government. Both the form and content of the conference should continuously be evolved to achieve the necessary impact. Let the sound of the boots and hoofs hitting against the tarmac at GovTech 2019 be another reminder of the 4IR army on the march”, she concluded.

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