Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s drive towards creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurs received a further boost this week with the unveiling of a R25m partnership with Telkom.
Ian Russell, Danny Jordaan, and Derrick Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, cut the ribbon for Propella FutureMakers Hub in Port Elizabeth
The telecommunications giant has established a FutureMakers Hub with the Eastern Cape business incubation centre, Propella, which through Innovolve, is the commercialization company of NMMU.
Speaking at the unveiling of the partnership at Propella in Humerail, NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz highlighted the need to look beyond the present – the way the economy presently operated, relying on traditional businesses and industries like mining and manufacturing – to identify new solutions.
“We need to start with education and in creating conditions conducive for encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to look to new horizons,” he said, citing the University’s move towards the establishment of a marine and maritime campus in support of the untapped potential of the blue economy.
The establishment of Propella, hugely bolstered by the support of Telkom with its R25m investment, created such an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.
According to Telkom’s “Chief of Stuff” Ian Russell, the enterprise development investment was aimed at enabling, empowering and inspiring entrepreneurs.
“Ultimately, by supporting innovation through the technology sector, we can create jobs, improve digital access and develop a stable and competitive supply chain,” he said, adding that the connectivity available at Propella was one of the fastest and strongest in the country.
The dedicated 100MB optic fibre link equates to downloading a 2MB movies in just 25 seconds.
Many of the 28 incubatees presently with Propella are working on IT-related ideas, including a pair of students from Fort Hare whose ideas are being commercialized.
“Having the Propella FutureMakers Hub will help keep our highly sought-after computer science and information systems graduates in the metro,” says Jaci Barnett, chairperson of the Propella Board.
“It is important that we retain the skills in order to grow the economy of our city to create sustainable jobs,” she said, adding that alumni from mechantronics, engineering and chemistry are being encouraged to develop their own businesses with support offered by Propella.
Joining Prof Swartz, Ms Barnett and Mr Russell on the platform, was Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan, who also highlighted the importance of looking towards untapped markets and providing an environment conducive to entrepreneurship.
Like Prof Swartz, he mentioned the potential of harnessing the ocean, township and creative economies. NMMU is supporting all through teaching, learning and research.
NMMU also as a School of Music, Art and Design Propella innovation hub at NMMU’s Bird Street Campus in Central where arts students can prepare their ideas for market.
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
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Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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