VAAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY HOSTS GALA DINNER TO STRENGTHEN COLLABORATION BETWEEN INDUSTRY AND ACADEMIA TO PROMOTE INNOVATION AND GROWTH IN TECHNOLOGY
By: Selina Rapulane 27 October 2022
On Friday evening, 21 October 2022, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT)’s Technology Transfer and Innovation (TTO) held an Open Innovation Gala Dinner event at the Riverside Sun Hotel in Vanderbijlpark, to foster collaborations and networking between the VUT researchers and the industry.
The opening of the ceremony and welcoming of guests was delivered by Dr Speech Nelana, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Innovation Commercialization and Internationalization (RICI) at VUT.
“The purpose of this gala dinner is to foster working relations between VUT researchers and industry and improve awareness and knowledge of Intellectual Property (IP) amongst the university community and its external stakeholder and improve innovations and prospects of commercialization. This event will help to address challenges associated with bridging cultural and communication barriers between academia and the industry, which have over the years remained a consistent impediment in fostering such collaborations”, commented Dr Nelana as he gave an address to the VUT Research community and about 40-50 industry representatives that were in attendance.
Dr Nelana added that, “challenges such as misalignment of objectives, difficulties in the negotiation of research contracts and concern about controlling intellectual property rights, the brain-drain in universities will be amongst those discussed during the event with a view of understanding perspectives from all stakeholders and finding solutions”.
As he concluded his address, he mentioned that, “It is an established fact that collaborations between universities and industry have given rise to many blockbusters and discoveries over the years. Endeavours to find solutions to complex social, environmental, and economic challenges have increasingly required collaboration between universities and industry because few organisations have the internal capacity to deliver results on their own”.
The keynote address was delivered by Mr Kgomotso Lekola: Founder and Group Managing Director of BT Industrial. Mr Lekola is a businessman and manager with a career of over 20 years and a long track record of delivering on large and complex projects across various industries including manufacturing, mining, telecommunications, broadcast media and financial services. Lekola is a multi-award-winning businessman and was recently honoured by the President of South Africa, his Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa at the 4th South African Investment Summit as Industrialist of the Year 2022 for the demonstrated commitment to growth, development and industrialisation in South Africa and Africa in general.
“I have been tasked to talk about what we do and how we can use our IP to generate long term wealth and I found it very difficult to talk about IP outside the context of entrepreneurship. Those two are linked. When you talk about the issue of commercialization in particular, you have to then look at entrepreneurship. And when we look into entrepreneurship, you need to talk about competitiveness. So, what I will try to do this evening, is to give a key note that will spark your imagination and make you think differently about entrepreneurship and issues of innovation”, said Mr Lekola.
In his presentation, he mentioned that people cannot innovate in isolation. They need to understand their market with precision and study their competition and understand what they are doing.
Other presenters who contributed highly to event included:
- Ms Jetana Charsley: Director at the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO)
- Ms Omphile Netshiozwi: Director at the Omphile Netshiozwi Incorporated
- Dr Cornelius Ssemakalu: Faculty Research Manager at VUT’s Head: Faculty Administration • Applied & Comp
- Industry partners
The event had a positive impact of influencing research and innovation at VUT and the Vaal area to be more responsive to issues affecting society at large. It is hopeful that university-industry collaborations will stimulate internal research and development programs with the aim of university researchers assisting industrial scientists identify current research that might be useful for the design and development of innovative processes and potential products.
Furthermore, collaborations between industry and academia promote innovation and growth in technology, as industry partnerships are instrumental in advancing research and creating a skilled workforce.
Endeavours to find solutions to complex social, environmental, and economic challenges have increasingly required collaboration between universities and industries in a quest to find desired innovative solutions, and as a key player in the Southern Gauteng region, VUT aspires to become a nexus for research and innovation collaborations, with outcomes that will lead to a vibrant innovation ecosystem and commercially viable Intellectual Property.
In conclusion to the event, Mr Maemo Kobe: Acting Executive Director Technology Transfer and Innovation and Dr Nelana, expressed their appreciation and thanked everyone for attending this auspicious event.
The TTO was established with the support of the NIPMO to exploit the university’s research projects and intellectual property for socio-economic impact to promote regional economic development. Click here for more images.