New UK-South Africa Partnership Launched to Tackle Poverty, Unemployment, and Inclusive Economic Growth Through Innovation

South Africa has been ranked as the 13th biggest carbon dioxide emitter in the world[1]. For the country to help bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050, it will need to cut its emissions by approximately 60% to 75%[2]. Not only will this benefit the planet, but the people of South Africa too with up to 1.6 million additional jobs set to be created economy-wide through power sector transformation[3].

To aid with this, KTN Global Alliance Africa has now officially launched in South Africa. This is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the long-term ambition of which is to promote job creation, inclusive growth and poverty reduction through knowledge transfer, skills building and opportunities to support businesses and innovations that deliver scalable impact and sustainable economies.

Fredell Jacobs, Innovate UK KTN Country Lead for South Africa, says that innovation and international collaboration are increasingly being viewed as fundamental contributors of solutions to long-term problems like poverty, unemployment and people’s ability to participate in and shape the economy. “Our purpose is to create diverse connections to drive positive change in South Africa.”

He explains that KTN Global Alliance Africa will be driving this via four interventions – Place-Based Innovation, Open Innovation, Innovation Governance Knowledge Exchange, and Strengthening the Investment Pipeline.

Place-Based Innovation aims to strengthen the capacity and resilience of local innovation ecosystems by learning about their key challenges and then developing bespoke interventions. “This is our first priority which entails comprehensive diagnostics and listening to people who are actively involved in the local ecosystem. This process helps us understand where the gaps are and what we can do to contribute towards addressing innovation capacity and competency shortfalls through collaboration, knowledge exchange and technology transfer.”

Open Innovation strives to develop and maintain a collaborative culture between industry players and their associated supply chains or government agencies. Corporates are supported in finding innovative solutions to key challenges while solution providers are given opportunities to form new partnerships and gain access to new markets where their innovations can make a difference.

Innovation Governance Knowledge Exchange ensures a strategic, coherent and demand-driven approach to linking African innovation policy stakeholders with their international peers to share best practice and generate insights on how to best overcome bureaucratic, or ineffective governance structures that inhibit a swift response under changing circumstances and which are often a barrier to innovation progress.

As lack of access to finance is a major barrier to innovation, Strengthening the Investment Pipeline will work to improve mutual understanding of needs and opportunities between investor and innovator communities through a combination of community and capacity building, upskilling of innovation support, and match-making activities.

Dr Alicia Greated, Chief Executive Officer at Innovate UK KTN shares, “The overall objective of KTN Global Alliance Africa is to build stronger UK-African and Pan-African knowledge and partnerships that enable us to connect innovators for positive change. I’m delighted to be working so collaboratively with our partners here in South Africa.”

Jacobs concludes by saying, “We want to collaborate with local innovation ecosystem practitioners and beneficiaries to enhance and strengthen innovation capacity and support for economic, social, environmental and cultural value creation.”

For more information, go to

About KTN Global Alliance Africa

The KTN Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Four project-level interventions were piloted in 2021 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with one of the interventions focused on Place-Based Innovation.

For more information about the project, please visit