Change the world


Nelson Mandela University Research Week Day Four, introduced by Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation, Dr Thandi Mgwebi, under the theme innovation and technology transfer session.
Various speakers focused on the creation, protection and commercialisation of intellectual property. UK-based Indepedent Consultant on technology transfer, Tom Hockaday who has worked with various technology and research role-players including universities around the world including Oxford University, said patenting must be a priority for researchers and inventors. "Think patent before you publish. If you talk about your wonderful inventions or research results before you patent, you lose the opportunity to get the patent granted."
Director at the DSI/NRF and consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute Prof Bavesh Kana is the founder of a biotech startup that enabled various countries around the world to conduct Covid tests safely, efficiently and timeously. 
"Building relationships in the academic space was important for our growth. It was also relationships that enabled us to get more clients in 37 countries around the world."
Former Nelson Mandela University doctoral candidate Robert Bosch is a patent holder for a technology that manufactures rubber in an energy efficient way. He advised entrepreneurs in tech to simplify language, to open doors for their business.
"Learn to pitch your technology without the jargon. Make it human. Connect with humans who need you to solve the problem at a human level."  
Dina Biagio, Patent Attorney at Spoor & Fisher said startups and researchers should be aware of their contractual rights and obligations when it comes to intellectual property (IP). "You don't own an IP just because you paid somebody to create it. Advice for small businesses is to take ownership."
Managing partner at Seed South Capital Sakhile Xulu, advocated for early-stage commercialisation of intellectual property to boost the economy and create jobs. "According to NIPMO, between 2014 and 2018 South Africa spent R50 billion on R&D across the value chain. But less than 1% spent on actual commercialisation. Why are we confused that we don't have jobs? American venture capital company Future Planet Capital spent less than R20-billion and that has equated to 4.6 million jobs across the world. Our biggest mistake as a country is we spend money on creation of IP, but not on commercialisation." The unemployment rate according to Statistics South Africa was around 34% in the first half of 2022. 
Director of Innovation and Technology Policy & Strategy at the dtic, Nontombi Marule holds a Master of Management degree in Innovation Studies. She said startup entrepreneurs must be forward thinking.
"You need to be able to pivot as an entrepreneur. You need to think about everything right from the start. How flexible is your structure to pivot?"

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