EDHE Economic Activation Offices (EAOs) – the connector of entrepreneurship in universities
Established in 2021, the EDHE EAOs are designed to serve as epicentres for connecting entrepreneurship-related entities and activities, and fostering entrepreneurship within universities. They are entrusted with catalysing support, facilitating collaboration, and seamlessly exchanging information across the broader university community. The EAOs are positioned to operate as conduits, connecting and aligning a diverse spectrum of stakeholders – from executive leadership and faculty, to support staff and students, to local business and industry – to cultivate and nurture the entrepreneurship ecosystem within the institutions.
The aim is to establish a connection point for university entrepreneurship to deepen and broaden the engagement of faculty, centres for entrepreneurship, incubators, student affairs, technology transfer offices, science parks, internationalisation and other entities that support the research-innovation-entrepreneurship-commercialisation value chain.
A key enabler of this initiative is the strategic partnership with Standard Bank SA. Their renewed commitment through additional funding underscores the significance of private-sector collaboration in propelling entrepreneurship, economic participation of youth, and fostering sustainable economic growth.
The EAO initiative encapsulates the EDHE programme’s resolute commitment to advancing entrepreneurship, fostering robust collaboration, and driving positive societal transformation within the academic landscape.
University structures conducive to entrepreneurship and economic activation
EAO Cohort 1 – the 10 pilot universities Established in 2021 these EAOs customised the EAO model to fit their context and institutional needs.
EAO Cohort 2 – 14 universities These universities are establishing their EAOs in 2024, with the support of EDHE and Standard Bank SA.
1. Cape Peninsula University of Technology
1. Central University of Technology
2. Sol Plaatje University
2. University of Pretoria
3. Durban University of Technology
3. University of Mpumalanga
4. Walter Sisulu University
4. University of South Africa
5. University of Johannesburg
5. University of the Witwatersrand
6. Tshwane University of Technology
6. University of Fort Hare
7. University of Venda
7. University of Kwazulu-Natal
8. University of Limpopo
8. University of the Western Cape
9. Nelson Mandela University
9. University of Zululand
10. University of Cape Town
10. North-West University
11. Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
12. Stellenbosch University
13. Mangosuthu University of Technology
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14. Vaal University of Technology
EDHE’s Community of Practice (CoP) for EAOs
The establishment of an EDHE Community of Practice (CoP) dedicated specifically to Economic Activation Offices (EAOs). This CoP serves as an inclusive platform designed to cultivate a collaborative environment, enabling the exchange of knowledge, insights, and effective methodologies among professionals actively involved in driving economic activation initiatives.
This bespoke CoP represents a significant stride towards creating a unified space where EAO professionals from diverse universities convene. Its core purpose is to foster a culture of collective learning, sharing experiences, and disseminating best practices related to economic development, job creation, and community empowerment. The CoP’s establishment is a pivotal step in strengthening collaborative efforts, facilitating a robust network for EAO practitioners to collectively enhance their initiatives.
The CoP’s framework allows for a dynamic exchange of ideas, experiences, and proven strategies, laying the foundation for sustained synergy among the EAO community. The CoP’s leadership embodies the collaborative spirit, with Ms. Jayde Barends, Technology Transfer Officer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (left), leading as Chairperson. Prof. Pierre Joubert, Head of School for Economic and Management Sciences at Sol Plaatje University (right), has been elected as the Deputy Chairperson, symbolising the commitment to a collective approach towards advancing economic activation agendas.