UJ TTO launches incubation programme to nurture innovation ecosystem

According to the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index, enterprise is a crucial engine of economic growth. Without enterprise and entrepreneurs, there would be little innovation, little productivity growth, and few new jobs.

Entrepreneurial success does not take place in a vacuum. Entrepreneurs exist in the context of their particular geography – be that their local, national, or even supranational economy and society. This mix of attitudes, resources, and infrastructure is known as the entrepreneurship ‘ecosystem’.

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On Tuesday, 22 October 2019, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Technology Transfer Office (TTO) launched the Incubator Programme which will develop students’ and innovators’ skills to navigate the business and start-up world. Students who join the programme will be supported by the TTO and will have access to markets, infrastructure and world-class industry experts.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala: Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg welcomed guests, advocating for the development of greater innovation systems in South Africa.

”One of the main issues preventing start-ups in our country is that our innovation ecosystem is not rich enough. Our investors’ risk appetite is too low, particularly if they cannot see profits in the immediate future.”

”Importantly, the start-up culture in SA will not germinate unless we have a robust research and development architecture that is implemented across our universities, science councils and our industrial base,” added Prof Marwala.

The TTO offers various avenues and areas of support, however in the incubation stage, a start-up company will have access to services from UJ as well as externally. These include: IP protection, competitive analysis, detailed financial analysis, detailed technical testing and product development, market validation, action plan development and resource planning, operations training and execution. Entrepreneurs are paired with business coaches and mentors,and will participate in challenges, innovation awards, pitching sessions, and Investors’ Days.

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Dr Vuyisile Phehane, Director: UJ Technology Transfer Office (UJTTO) said, ”According to the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index, which is an annual index that measures the health of the entrepreneurship ecosystems in over 137 countries, South Africa does well in areas such as Product Innovation and Competition. However, an area where we severely lack is in Startup Skills.”

South Africa is ranked 57 globally and second regionally behind Botswana according to the Index.

Mr Mmboneni Muofhe, Deputy Director-General: Technology Innovation at the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) added, ”This facility represents a ‘greenhouse’ of a specific nature. It is where we will be growing and nurturing the future of this country in terms of innovators and entrepreneurs and ensure that the Intellectual Property (IP) that we generate for this University is not lost.”

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) is responsible for developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University and the management and commercialisation of the University’s Intellectual property (IP) portfolio via licensing and creation of start-ups among other activities.

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