Author: Puno Selesho

TuksNovation occupies a special place in the South African entrepreneurship ecosystem and has thus carved a niche for itself to support a new breed of entrepreneurs: individuals who are high-growth oriented, and socially conscious with a global outlook.”

Prof. Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Pretoria
 Prof T Kupe note on an entrepreneurial university

TuksNovation was established in line with the UP’s vision of becoming an entrepreneurial university by 2025. In the past 4 years the incubator has made steady progress and acquired significant achievements. TuksNovation has supported a new breed of entrepreneurs who are high-growth orientated, socially conscious and have a global outlook. With the innovators specialising in 4IR technologies, participating businesses have collectively generated R20 million in revenue and 1200 students have been trained in entrepreneurial related development initiatives.

Prof. Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP expanded on the definition of an entrepreneurial university during his speech at the launch of the Vice-Chancellor’s (UPVC) Entrepreneurship Challenge:

“The notion of an entrepreneurial university is juxtaposed against a traditional university. A traditional university is one where standard things are done, where the primary activity is to give degrees or qualifications that would empower a student to get employment. We won’t stop doing that, it is part of the mix. But an entrepreneurial university is proactive about students who will seek employment and what skills they will bring to the employment market. That means, it is sensitive to the changes within the employment market, changes in the economy and changes in the nature of work. This year we will officially launch The Centre For The Future of Work, where we want to proactively research the changes that are happening in the world of work caused by, amongst other things, rapidly advancing digital technologies. For example, people talk about robots that could take people’s jobs. It need not be so if the University adopts an entrepreneurial posture and an understanding of these technologies and the opportunities they create. 

An entrepreneurial university is continuously renewing its curriculum so that it is contextually relevant and empowering students to be future-proofed. For instance, the 5-year strategy plan which we adopted last year says that we are going to be a future-oriented, future-focused university. The traditional university interacts with the economy or the market at a distance, as something you study but not something you see yourself engaged in. Whereas the entrepreneurial university says, we are and have to be an economic actor and one of the outcomes of what we do is socio-economic impact in order to create transformative futures. As you can see, one is a certificate issuing institution whereas the other is an empowering institution that sees itself as an actor and driver of change in society.” 

Prof Kupe’s speech serves as a call to action to all UP partners and others within the private sector to take advantage of the TuksNovation platform. These collaborations are a way to tackle and mitigate the economic and social challenges that Africa faces. Through a concerted effort between academics, government, corporate South Africa and local communities, we can unearth high-value, high growth and commercially viable inventions that will usher Africa into a flourishing future.