Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Dr Thandi Mgwebi.
The study entitled TUT’s approach on strengthening innovative regional clusters: an exploratory study of university-industry clustering, is part of the inclusive TUT Research, Innovation and Engagement Strategy (RIES 2018 - 2022), which aims to position the university as a global player in research, innovation and education.
The University strategy further seeks to foster a contented, well-connected and empowered critical mass of researchers, especially in strategic priority areas. These researchers should champion the University’s contribution to (i) national growth, (ii) regional advancement and (iii) global excellence through research, innovation and engagement with relevant stakeholders and communities including industry, public sector and civil society.
While businesses are at the core of competitive clusters, with universities forming a critical support infrastructure for continued industrial innovation and productivity growth, the DVC, Dr Thandi Mgwebi led the formulation of a linkage strategy for private sector clustering in the Gauteng Province. The aim is to develop and measure alignment with private sector industry as well as develop a model for industry engagement.
“The industry cluster approach is a key economic development strategy that is anchored in the concept that sustainable growth is best achieved by building upon the region’s existing economy. The cluster mapping exercise is aimed at developing a better understanding of the socio-economic structure of Gauteng Province and to enhance TUT’s comparative position,” she explained.
The findings from the study also showed that:
- The University would be able to actively monitor emerging Innovation and Technology trends and develop forward thinking strategies to establish a portfolio of industry clusters, focused on the region’s key and emerging industry sectors.
- TUT could therefore become an important role player in supporting industrial cluster development in the Gauteng province.
- TUT must build its research and innovation capacity to ensure that it provides the necessary support to existing and new firms around Gauteng that are interested in becoming part of clusters.
Dr Hamilton Mphidi, Deputy Director: Innovation and Technology Transfer Office.
Dr Hamilton Mphidi, Deputy Director: Innovation and Technology Transfer Office, who was also at the forefront of the project, explained that by effectively implementing an engagement framework, TUT will better position itself as a “pioneering, enterprising and transformative brand of a twenty-first century University of Technology”. “Such a framework will further enable TUT to tap into and harness the innovative impulse prevalent in our continent. We would be able to identify and collaborate with likeminded institutions in a particular environment, in order to increase the collective skills and capacity in scientific research and development, as well as the ability to translate the knowledge created to work and develop social and technological innovations in response to the industry and societal needs,” he said.
The university has also received support from the Department of Science and Innovation for the regional innovation platform called the Pretoria North Regional Platform, in support of the industry clustering approach.