Fostering and celebrating research and innovation at VUT

By: Selina Rapulane – 10 November 2023

Enhancing research and innovation remains at the heart of advancing the Vaal University of Technology (VUT)’s strategic objectives. As part of the many interventions to foster the two, the University through the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) held an event to unite industry leaders, researchers, innovators, and key stakeholders alike to discuss cutting edge trends and opportunities in research and innovation.

The event was held on 08 November 2023 at the VUT Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park in Sebokeng.

Spearheaded by the University’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in collaboration with the Technology Station for Materials and Processing Technologies (TSMPT), the event also coincided with an award ceremony to recognise and celebrate staff members who are trailblazers in innovation, while they strive to raise the VUT flag in the field.

In the main, the event aimed to resuscitate Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercialisation awareness with internal stakeholders, focusing strongly on the approved IP and Commercialisation policies, processes and procedures. These are used for research translation to market; allay concerns, engage with fellow colleagues, and (re)introduce TSMPT platforms to staff members; and recognize the efforts of individuals that have meaningfully contributed towards the creation of IP and innovation within VUT. The session was presented by Mrs Martha Ikome: IP Advisor and Acting Senior Manager: TTO and Mr Maemo Kobe: Acting Executive Director: TTI.

Additionally, the gathering also sought to encourage applied research and innovation within VUT, create an awareness on the capabilities of VUT Additive Manufacturing platforms and fostered greater innovation. This, by emphasizing the importance of turning to collaborative work where VUT stakeholders pull their knowledge and perspectives to learn and innovate faster and effectively. In his presentation, Mr David Mauchline, emphasized that 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize various industries. “It empowers innovators to create products and solutions that were previously difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional manufacturing methods,” said Mauchline.

Recognizing research and innovation trailblazers

An important leg of the event was the recognition of researchers who have contributed to innovation within the VUT – a session led by Dr Speech Nelana, the: Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and Professor Margaret Linnington, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Teaching Learning and Quality Promotions.

Winners received awards for their invaluable contributions to the advancement of research and innovation at VUT.

Categories and Winners:

  • Recognition for Scientific Innovation

Scientific Innovation is based on advanced knowledge generated by science students, academics and professionals, which are used in the creation of a new idea, the understanding or discovery of a new scientific concept and the creation of a new device, process or product. This should be a result of research & development together with experimentation which is science-based.

Winners are:

Prof Ssemakalu (Tissue regenerative medical patch project)

Prof Naser Feto (Biodiesel project)

Ms Gladys Mpho (Biodiesel project)

  • Recognition for Technological Innovation

Technological Innovation involves new or improved tools that result in problem solving through their novel application, thereby enhancing the outcome of a particular process from the use of such equipment or implements.

Winners are: Prof Tumisang Seodigeng (Activated Carbon project)

Prof Peter Osifo (Modified Chitosan beads project)

Prof Hillary Rutto (Activated Carbon project)

  • Recognition for Creative Innovation

The cultural and creative industries are significant to innovation because they are primarily based on innovative ideas which produce a multitude of new products and services. Creative individuals are at the heart of cultural and creative industries. Through talent, skill, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property, they generate new jobs and companies and also help in the maturing of industries re-tool for the future.

The Award for Creative Innovation rewards individuals who are instrumental to the creation or have an excellent combination of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The contribution can be a new product, innovation of a process or a new way of working.

Winners are: Prof Micheal Klink (conversion of plant biomass into nanomaterials project)

Dr Agnes Pholosi (Rapid recovery matrix for extraction of organic pollutants)

  1. Special Recognition

A Special Award is given to a researcher/ Innovator that has contributed immensely to the successful student innovative projects which is chosen by the Adjudicating Committee.

The winner is:  Dr Trudy Sutherland

In his closing remarks, Dr Nelana congratulated all the winners and challenged the VUT Team to do more to expose the services that are available at the TTI so that the AM precinct is taken beyond the University.