A senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering Technology within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) Dr Thandiwe Sithole, has been appointed as an Independent and Non-executive director of The Platinum Incubator (TPI).
She has also been elected to serve as a chairperson of the TPI technical advisory committee. TPI is a small business start-up hub devoted to encouraging budding entrepreneurs to develop world-class products and applications using Platinum Group Metals (PGMs).
Independent and non-executive directors represent the necessary skills to strategically guide TPI. Dr Sithole will strategically chaperon the TPI in executing industrial applications duties by providing innovative and holistic support to PGMs beneficiation.
Commenting on her appointment, Dr Sithole said: “I am honored to serve as a director and chairperson of technical advisory committee. I am very excited about these appointments as the Incubator is collaborating with several universities for infrastructure and implementation of industrial applications support.”
“With my appointment as a board member, I have seen that many engineering students have failed to start a business due to a lack of entrepreneurial education. The leading cause is that universities only focus on the professional knowledge and skills for the cultivation of engineering students but ignore entrepreneurship education,” said Dr Sithole.
“It is vital to cultivate the entrepreneurial ability of tertiary students. Currently, graduates in SA have done a lot of research and innovative solutions for challenges that most of our industries are facing. However, these solutions and innovative business ideas are in theses and dissertations archived in university libraries because there is no integration between research, commercialization, and entrepreneurship education into our engineering training program.”
The TPIs mandate is to help aspiring jewelers build careers in designing and manufacturing jewelry using platinum, silver, palladium, gold, diamonds, and semi-precious stones mined in Southern Africa. Offering training in all aspects of design and manufacture relating to the use and deployment of PGMs, providing ongoing support to SMMEs in the design and manufacture of jewelry, attracting and developing SMMEs focus on the industrial and technical application PGMs.
“The economic impact of innovation and entrepreneurship is becoming more broadly recognized. Therefore, it is no longer enough for universities to be involved only in research and development, prototyping activities to produce papers. Commercialization of research outputs and market research must be encouraged to enable small business start-ups,” concluded Dr Sithole.
While the Incubator’s historical focus has been on jewellery design and manufacture, it has the potential to play a much broader role in the beneficiation chain by actively promoting and encouraging young inventors, chemists, engineers, scientists, technicians, designers and entrepreneurs to use PGMs in new and exciting ways that will ultimately benefit individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
Dr Thandiwe Sithole