The two-day Innovation Systems and Academic Entrepreneurship workshop that ended yesterday carried high value for South Africa’s universities — given the huge chasm between research, innovation and commercialisation that has, for years, been of great concern to our higher education institutions. This intervention was therefore long overdue, Professor Ahmed Bawa (below), Chief Executive Officer at Universities South Africa, said this week.

Officially opening the training-of-trainers workshop that was the main feature of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme’s Kick-off Event for 2022 on Wednesday, Professor Bawa said he was particularly happy that experts from Oxentia Ltd, with a massive reputation in innovation and commercialisation, were facilitating this intervention. Oxentia Ltd is Oxford University’s Global Innovation Consultancy arm.

He said even though South Africa’s research output had grown exponentially in the past decade or so (and had levelled off in the recent past), the high research output from universities and science councils, combined, did not match the extent of innovation and taking new products to market. This was despite having supportive policy instruments in place, and notwithstanding the funding that was being pumped into the system to steer innovation.