VC’s Seminar unlocks road to entrepreneurial excellence

by Kgaugelo Selane

5 October 2023

The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) hosted the 32nd Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Research and Innovation Seminar themed "Entrepreneurship Excellence through Research, Education, and Training: A Holistic and Inclusive Approach, on 27 September 2023.

Keynote Speaker, Dr Helen McGuirk.

In opening the seminar, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Engagement, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, emphasised the significance of academic seminars, highlighting their role in advancing the institution. “Seminars of this nature are a testament to the University’s commitment to fostering innovation and driving excellence in research and education. The University is firmly working towards achieving the goals outlined by the National Development Plan 2030,” she said.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr Helen McGuirk, the Head of the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence at the School of Business, Munster Technological University (MTU). Her work centres on supporting entrepreneurship in all its forms at regional, national and international levels. Dr McGuirk’s research focusses on four related areas: the economics of innovation, entrepreneurship, SME competitiveness and public policy. Her research is published in top academic journals and has been presented nationally and internationally.

Dr McGuirk’s presentation focused on the importance of entrepreneurship in addressing economic and societal challenges. She focused on a holistic and inclusive approach, highlighting the role of research, education and training in stimulating entrepreneurship excellence. She emphasised the significance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset and stressed the need to instil this mindset early on, enabling individuals to approach challenges with adaptability and a system thinking approach. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Engagement), Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka.

This, she argued, is fundamental to tackling the complexities of change and advancing sustainable futures, “Having an entrepreneurial mindset is essential for succeeding in a dynamic and competitive world, it helps you to discover and seize opportunities,” she said. She also highlighted the role that entrepreneurship education plays in equipping individuals with the competencies needed to succeed in an evolving economic landscape.

Dr McGuirk added that higher education institutions play a crucial role in driving a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and through research and innovation, higher education institutions could provide valuable insights and guidance to early-stage and established entrepreneurs. 

Dr McGuirk's career and commitment to entrepreneurship has had significant impact regionally, nationally and internationally. With over 10 publicly funded projects under her leadership, she has supported several students, educators and industry partners. Through her research, she has shed light on the economics of innovation, entrepreneurship, business competitiveness and public policy. Her work has won prestigious awards and has been published in renowned journals. As a member of various academic councils and networks, she continues to contribute to the advancement of higher education and research. 

From left, Dr Edgar Nesamvuni, Dr Helen McGuirk , Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka and Dr Patrick Ebewo.

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