GIS - 30 November 2017: The Mauritius Research Council (MRC) is launching, on a pilot basis, a socially innovative and multipronged programme to assist employees who are diabetic or prediabetic in controlling the disease and its complications. The overreaching aim of the programme entitled ‘Fighting diabetes at the workplace’ is to incentivise large private establishments to subscribe to this initiative. To this endeavour, a matching grant of Rs 2.5 million will be, on a competitive basis, put at the disposal of interested employers who wish to participate in the project.
The pilot programme was presented today at a workshop on social innovation organised by the MRC in collaboration with the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation at Voilà Hotel in Bagatelle.
Present at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, termed the pilot programme as an initiative which transcends the curative and puts equal emphasis on prevention while engineering health conscious lifestyle transformation that can potentially bring a significant difference in the fight against diabetes. He added that employers can also stand to gain from the programme given that the efficiency, motivation and productivity of the employees are anticipated and enhanced as a result of the programme.
The concept of social innovation as the adoption of new practices to address social issues in ways that are more effective, efficient and equitable than existing solutions was elaborated by the Minister. He recalled that the return on investments, which is normally expected in the pursuit of research, development and innovation, is not measured only in terms of money but also in terms of the greater social good, thus the necessity to harness the applications of science to improve the life of common people and vulnerable groups.
The Minister moreover commended the MRC for the various steps taken to promote the adoption of socially innovative practices. He made mention of the latest social innovation and research grant scheme which encourages applicants to form networks, for example non-governmental organisations in collaboration with academic research institutions and private sector, and submit proposals which combine action research and social innovation potential with tangible outcomes in social development areas. Under the scheme, projects are evaluated in terms of their potential practical merits as socially innovative solutions to the problem identified, and a grant of up to Rs 1 million is awarded for a project duration not exceeding 24 months.
Speaking on the importance of science, technology and innovation in improving the lives of ordinary citizens and make society a better place to live, Mr Sawmynaden stressed that Government is laying much emphasis on the promotion and adoption of a culture of innovation. He pointed out that his Ministry is the driving force behind numerous initiatives, namely: implementing the e-health system, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life; participating in the school net II project to provide high speed data connectivity in secondary schools and educational institutions; easing the daily life of the population with the Citizen Support Unit; and launching of e-services on a regular basis with a view to allowing the public to carry out their administrative chores online.
Workshop on Social Innovation
The objectives of the workshop are to popularise the concept of social innovation locally; provide an understanding of how it can provide possible tracks for developing new tools and approaches to support local initiatives in addressing pressing social problems; and create a community of policy-makers, practitioners, industry, academia and non-governmental organisations that can apply the social innovation approach in meeting these challenges.
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