School of Chemistry & Physics

Professor Neil Koorbanally addresses participants at the seminar.

Super Highway of Innovation Seminar Empowers Students

The School of Chemistry and Physics together with UKZN InQubate recently held a seminar on the Westville campus titled Super Highway of Innovation, which focused on the 4th industrial revolution, intellectual property, commercialisation and entrepreneurship.

Targeted at postgraduates, the goal of the seminar was to offer advice and give a head start to those keen to turn opportunities into businesses.

Following the enthusiastic responses and turnout by students, the feeling was that it’s safe to assume that entrepreneurship is the new reality destined to become a leading factor in South Africa’s economic growth.

It has become obvious that students recognise the difficulties of finding employment and are keen to get skills and guidance to venture into entrepreneurship as a means of providing employment for themselves and others.

Academic leader in Research at UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics Professor Neil Koorbanally addressed students on transforming research work into viable businesses and also on the large number of opportunities available to young entrepreneurs.

After the seminar he said: ‘I was thrilled to see so many students wanting to hear about entrepreneurship and innovation.  These young folk are the future CEOs of our pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies.’

Director of Intellectual Property and Commercialisation at InQubate Mrs Suvina Singh guided students through the process of starting up a business, the importance of intellectual property and explained the shift in business in the emergent 4th industrial revolution.

InQubate believes that the students are the business leaders of tomorrow and the goal is to give them a successful start and show them how to run businesses.  The organisation also believes that its researchers are doing an excellent job that has the potential to better lives, to better the environment and to better the world.

Through its skills development STEPUP and its networking activities such as the Mind to Market initiative, UKZN InQubate is making a concerted effort to promote entrepreneurship as a viable and essential offering at the University. By contributing towards an enabling environment and partnering with skilled business practitioners and entrepreneurs, STEPUP aims to grow the next generation of business leaders who can positively impact South Africa’s social and economic development.

Asked for comment on the seminar, student Ms Nyameka Vuyokazi Diko said she had gained insight into becoming an entrepreneur. Diko suggested the seminar become an annual event featuring more speakers with their own businesses. ‘In terms of reading papers and research, the seminar provided ideas on how to commercialise research and start a business,’ she said.

Another student Ms Andiswa Ntshele said the event helped her to think more about her research project in terms of what impacts it would have on the future of the country and the world. Ntshele said it also helped her in terms of problem solving.

She agreed the event should become an annual one as it would be very useful in helping new postgraduate students starting their projects.

Words: Krielan Deby