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Catalysing innovation and entrepreneurship

Universities are essential cogs in the engine that drive job creation and economic growth. As one of Africa’s top research universities, Wits drives innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. Wits is establishing an ecosystem to drive research-led innovation that will solve some of Africa’s greatest challenges in sectors such as health, urbanisation, education, environmental protection and food security.

Centenary projects:

1. The Wits Innovation Centre

As the focal point of its innovation strategy, Wits is creating a new organisational structure, called the Wits Innovation Centre (WIC). The holder of the Chair in Innovation will direct this Centre. The Centre will be embedded in the Wits Innovation Hub and will coordinate and conduct teaching in Innovation and a broad range of events, activities and facilities.

2. Establishing a hub for innovation

The Wits Innovation Hub is being established in the old Flower Hall on West Campus. It will serve as a meeting place and co- working facility for Wits Innovators drawn from all faculties and disciplines. Staff and students will have a place to gather and co-create. It will be a venue for hackathons, meet-ups and other events. The Hub will also house maker-spaces and incubators.

3. Providing opportunities to invest in Wits innovation

The Wits Innovation Investment Fund provides an opportunity for Wits Alumni and others to invest in Wits innovations and start-ups. The Fund will provide seed funding and investments with the aim of growing successful spin-off companies from Wits research.

4. Launching the Digital Dome

The Digital Dome will transform the erstwhile Yale Road Planetarium into an interdisciplinary state-of-the-art data science exploration and discovery facility. It will straddle diverse fields from radio astronomy and fluid dynamics to anatomy and lightning studies. This will provide a unique resource for both Wits students and the broader public.

5. Establishing new physical and virtual incubators

New specialist incubators and business accelerators will be established to support start-ups spun from Wits research and innovation. These will include a Health-Tech Incubator in Parktown, a Fin-Tech Incubator in Braamfontein and a Rural- Tech Incubator at the Wits Rural Campus in Mpumalanga. Other physical and virtual incubators are also envisaged.

6. Building robust entrepreneurial ecosystems

The Centre for Entrepreneurship will specialise in entrepreneurial development, aligning business ecosystems, developing strategic partnerships, building entrepreneurial cultures, and providing business support to contribute towards building a robust entrepreneurial economy.