Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Snake Nation and Manchester Metropolitan University Awarded Inaugural British Council IAU (Innovation for African Universities) Project Funding.
CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology), along with Snake Nation have teamed up with Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) as partners to roll out a pilot program to foster digital and entrepreneurial skills for graduates, with funding support secured from the British Council as part of its global partnership program.
The British Council’s Innovation for African Universities (IAU) project fosters a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within universities to facilitate the development of skills required to build industries, companies, products, and services.
The Innovation for African Universities program is designed to support the development of Africa-UK University Partnerships that build institutional capacity for HE engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in selected African countries, to strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems, and improve support for young people seeking to develop job creation entities and sustainable enterprises.
The CPUT, Snake Nation, and Manchester Metropolitan University collaboration is one of just 24 projects that have received funding support for the first time this year, and it will see CPUT and its partners develop a Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (BIIC).
The BIIC aims to improve graduate employability and will provide students with the opportunity to become technopreneurs by translating their innovative ideas into financially viable and sustainable start-ups that will provide job opportunities for themselves or their peers.
The British Council evaluated over 50 applications in a rigorous multistage evaluation, and 24 projects were chosen to participate in the program. Many of the initiatives are part of a new wave of youthful, ambitious student-led projects tackling local and global issues. The CPUT, Snake Nation, and Manchester Metropolitan University collaboration is motivated by the high rate of young unemployment in South Africa, which stands at 66.5% – a challenge that the BIIC initiative attempts to address.
Dr Michael Twum-Darko, Project Leader and Head of CPUT’s Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (BIIC), said: “The emphasis at BIIC is on exploring ideas that create new jobs, by up-skilling our graduates to create more employment opportunities or enterprises for themselves, and in turn create employment opportunity for others.”
Dre Ngare, COO and Head of Innovation at Snake Nation said “When we were told about the award and we would be able to roll out the Pilot Program with CPUT, I immediately saw it as a great opportunity for our company to help showcase the innovation capabilities of students. We plan to launch programs with the Snake Nation app across Africa with the vision of getting young people to enter the digital and creative economy as technopreneurs with not only digital skills but business as well.”
The IAU programme will foster creativity and business skills for students to enter tech-savvy economies. As part of the program, a number of hackathons will be held with a focus on gov-tech to allow for greater government efficiency via technology and innovation.
The programme will also be hosting the maiden hybrid Inclusive Technopreneurship Forum (ITF), which will be held in Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa and Manchester, the UK from 16 to 17 August 2022. The forum’s major theme will be “Competing in the Post-Pandemic Era of Globalization: The Missing 21st Century Skills.”
The ITF-2022 is a community-building programme that will bring African Universities and partners together to exchange research outputs, learning, teaching, and assessment experiences, as well as community engagement activities, with the goal of developing African graduates into technopreneurs.
The Hybrid ITF-2022 will provide a forum for debate, engagement, cooperation, networking, and sharing, all with the goal of adding to the body of knowledge relating to the conference theme.
Melani-Ann Hara, CPUT, Student Development Officer is equally excited about the opportunities the project will bring, as it will build technopreneurial skills to enable varsity leavers with to find employment, and start businesses.
“Having a BIIC infrastructure as an innovation capacity-building initiative integrated with postgraduate/graduate education at CPUT and driven by business creation, technopreneurship, and technology transfer would not only facilitate and improve graduate employability but also develop a platform for innovation and creativity towards accelerated economic growth in the region,” he said.
The planned BIIC provides a commercial opportunity for chosen students’ entrepreneurial ideas with integrated digitalisation concepts to be developed into genuine businesses or start-ups that may be fostered to become competitive local, national, and worldwide players.