The South African Technology Network held its 9th Annual International SATN Conference in Cape Town from 12-14 October, under the theme "Partnerships for Innovation and Development – Making it happen. Making it matter". University World News reports.
It is time to move beyond the idea of innovation as a holy grail – a somewhat mystical and ‘hi-tech’ solution to developmental challenges – towards the creation of a broad-based culture of innovation and problem-solving. And universities are key players in that process, according to Universities South Africa CEO Professor Ahmed Bawa.
More than 10 years after its creation, the university of technology sector in South Africa continues to be dogged by a crisis of identity and perceptions of second-class status. Recently appointed chair of the South African Technology Network, Professor Lourens van Staden, says he hopes to lead a drive to re-brand the sector.
European universities are instrumental in regional knowledge triangles, facilitating linkages between innovation, research, and teaching and learning, said international higher education expert Jaana Puukka, calling on universities to act as centres for regional innovation and economic development.
How best to forge mutually beneficial ties between universities and industry as a means to produce work-ready graduates is a perennial debate among universities of technology in South Africa. But there is a growing sense of urgency around the issue as the country struggles with high youth unemployment and lower economic growth forecasts. The recent South African Technology Network conference highlighted the ongoing challenges – but also some of the successes – in this arena.
Examples of successful models of university partnerships for innovation, as well as challenges encountered, were shared by African and international experts at the annual conference of the South African Technology Network.
While sustainable development was not a new concept, new methods to tackle it in higher education were needed, according to Abigail Edem, curriculum developer at Central University of Technology, Free State, in South Africa.