CUTis brings experts to help grow SMMEs

Dr Kerry Faul, Head/Chief Director: National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO); Prof. Henk De Jager, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT); Dr Hanita Swanepoel NIPMO Science Analyst at the Central University of Technology Free State Innovation Services (CUTis);  Mr Thabang Jase Acting Director: Advisory and Support NIPMO; Ms Geralda Winkler, Acting CEO of CUTis and Mr Zulfaqar Dudhia, Intellectual Property Expert (Clarivate Analytics).

As a means to promote and introduce a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the CUT community and society, the Central University of Technology’s innovation services (CUTis) held an IP workshop recently.

The purpose of the workshop was to expose upcoming entrepreneurs and researchers, who wish to become entrepreneurs, to have an understanding of Intellectual Property Rights Act (IPR) and its implications for higher education institutions.

The workshop aimed at educating and informing potential entrepreneurs on how to protect their ideas and inventions, grow SMME’s and make a difference to the local economy.

In his address Prof. Henk de Jager, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said that the event is about engaging and collaborating to ensure that the impact in the region and country is enhanced.

“My dream is to see visible difference in surrounding areas and townships that have high unemployment rate. As a university of technology, we should be relevant to the people of the region and make a visible impact.

He highlighted the current statistics released by Statistics SA indicating that the population between 15 to 64 years of the working age is about 36,9 million. “Of that amount, 5,8 million people are currently unemployed, and 18,1 million receive social grant every month. This is a concerning matter. The only way to address this issue is to empower our people by creating more jobs and opportunities so that they can rely on themselves.”

He said that CUT is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship development, indicating the efforts made in ensuring that the institution has an impact on sustainable development and economic growth. “Early this year we launched an idea generator open to staff, students and the community to unlock their potential and enhance their ideas to develop them into viable business plans, and ultimately into marketable products.”

Dr Karry Faul, Head of NIPMO, commended CUT for the strides it has made in addressing local problems. “I am really impressed to see CUT showing commitment and striving to be relevant to the society. Technology transfer is not a cash cow for the university, but a tool meant to assist universities to find solutions to local problems.”

Deriving inspiration from a Hansa Pilsner advert, “Vuyo a big dreamer”, Miles Kubheka made Vuyo’s big dream to come true. While watching an advertisement by Hansa Pilsner, Kubheka, founder of the Vuyo’s brand, wondered whether this success story of an entrepreneur who started off with mobile vending units selling boeri rolls, to becoming a world-famous yacht owner was true. After some research, he learned that Vuyo was a fictional character and saw a gap in the market for what would become an incredibly successful business model.

In a motivational, informative, educational and interactive start-up grind session, Miles said that anybody can come up with great ideas but often people don’t act on them. “With the high unemployment rate in the country we should be coming up with ideas and creating jobs. It all starts with an idea and a market. The trick is to start small and act without fear or doubt.”