VUT TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OFFICE HOSTS AN IDEA PITCHING SESSION IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD IP DAY
By: Selina Rapulane – 05 May 2023
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT)’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in collaboration with Innovation Hub held an Idea Pitching Session from 19th to 21st April, in celebration of 2023 World Intellectual Property Day under the theme: “Women and IP: Accelerating innovation and creativity”.
World IP Day, which is celebrated annually on the 26 April, was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 with the primary aim of raising awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks, and designs impact on daily life. The day also provides a platform to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of economies and societies across the globe.
According to their website, WIPO, believes that women in all regions are shaping the world through their imagination, ingenuity, and hard work, but often face significant challenges in accessing the knowledge, skills, resources and support they need to thrive. To give recognition to this notion, this year WIPO celebrates the “can do” attitude of women inventors, creators and entrepreneurs around the world and their ground-breaking work.
The TTO/Innovation Hub workshop was divided into three days to emphasise the importance of IP through a day dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of IP identification and protection thereof, day two offered an opportunity for students to be sensitised on the relevant steps of establishing and running a successful business from their generated ideas as well as outline to students the essence of IP awareness and protection, while also giving them a platform to exercise their ideas and turn them into solutions that will benefit themselves and their community.
On the first day of the workshop, Mrs Martha Ikome: Acting Senior Manager of TTO and IP Advisor at VUT Technology Transfer and Innovation (TTI) presented on the importance of identifying IP at its early stages, protecting, and exploiting one’s IP for the economic and social empowerment/upliftment. She also highlighted how misunderstanding the IP system results in loss of confidence in the IP system and lack of respect for it. Among the discussions Mrs Ikome and the students held around IP, it was mentioned that, in keeping the IP system relevant, one must not lose sight of the basic tenets of IP. They must be careful not to infringe on the IPRs of others, respect the IPs of other individuals, companies, and countries.
During the second day of the workshop, Mr James Segooa: Area Innovation Manager: EkasiLab Sebokeng/Mohlakeng gave an address on what Innovation Hub is and its purpose to the public. He mentioned that the Innovation Hub offers a number of incubation programmes in the Bioeconomy, Smart Industries and Green Economy. In addition, it operates a range of enterprise development, skills development and innovation enabling programmes both at the VUT Science Park and throughout the Gauteng region.
He later introduced the Business Model Canvas (BMC) facilitators, Ms Matawana Moleleki from Precise and Ms Letta Mabuya from Innovation Hub, who presented on BMC. The BMC was crucial for the aspiring entrepreneurs to master as it gives entrepreneurs a wide snapshot of every aspect of their business. This includes everything from the value proposition and customer segments to operations and the financials.
During the third and final day of the workshop, Mr Maemo Kobe: Acting Executive Director TTI, said in his opening and welcome statement that, “In most cases, when we navigate our lives and student lives, we tend to focus on one particular thing, forgetting that there are other things that exist and are equally important. Now, IP is one of those important aspects. When you focus on your studies, take cognizance that IP and the generating of IP is equally important.”. He further stated that, “The purpose of this workshop is to make you realise that that there is absolutely nothing wrong in focusing both on your studies and on exploring what IP you can create in the quest of completing your studies. There are always opportunities around IP”.
Also, on the line up of speakers was Dr Elmary Buis, the Deputy Director: Regulatory and Compliance from National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO)- an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, responsible for implementing the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, whose presentation focused on women in research globally, what South African research has to say about women, and the IP Rights (IPR) Act and its application within the university. The IPR are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator/inventor an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.
This exceptional presentation was followed by a pitching and award session. This exercise was to empower the students to believe in their innovative ideas and have the will to experiment and go beyond the boundaries of the expected.
Among the thirty students that participated, only three went home with the prize. The third prize was awarded to Ms Pako Magagane, second prize to Eflipp Company and first prize was awarded to VUT Enactus Team. The VUT Enactus Team runs a start-up company, Foodable and their pitch was on one of their many exceptional products, a QR Code, that was printed using Fuse Deposit Modelling (FDM) printer at the Idea2Product Lab situated at the Vanderbijlpark Campus.
“I feel good after the work we have pulled through. After the struggles we went back to the drawing board, doing it again and to win and it shows what we have been working on and we should put more effort because we can do more than this. We are thankful for this opportunity and the prize money will be used towards the growth of the business”, commented VUT Enactus team member, Mr Junior Namaya.