The Makerere University Innovations Hub which was recently established with funding from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to start driving commercialization of innovations and enterprises resulting from the research undertaken by scholars at Makerere University.
Speaking during a press briefing on March 23, 2023, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, said the hub would go a long way in contributing to the strategic plan of the university of being a research led institution. Prof. Nawangwe appreciated UNDP for the financial support to the hub. UNDP is to finance the setting up of a state-of-art Innovation Pod with 10 design Labs. The design labs, according to the Director of the hub, Dr. Cathy Mbidde, will be open to all innovators (staff and students) at no cost. “The innovators will be able to use the equipment to do more research, product development and product design,” she said.
Dr. Mbidde disclosed that the expert team had vetted applications and selected 40 innovations which the centre will embark on for commercialization. “UGX 2.7 billion has been allocated to commercialization of innovative projects. 40 projects are going through the process of Intellectual Property Management, a precursor to commercialization,” Dr. Mbidde said.
Dr. Mbidde flanked by Dr. Peter Turyakira, Head of the Department of Marketing and Management at Makerere University explained that based on the national, continental and global audiences they intend to impact, the 40 projects set to be commercialized under the Makerere University Innovations Hub will undergo Intellectual Property procedures with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
The Vice Chancellor applauded UNDP for the support, saying Makerere University has a huge potential for research and innovation which has remained in the University due to lack of support mechanisms.
Makerere University innovation hub is also engaged in mentoring future women graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Africa with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Creating a platform for Innovative Young Persons with Disabilities in Uganda with support from Royal Academy of Engineering.
The Hub/Centre is also providing advisory services, incubation linkages internal and external stakeholders and space to students and staff.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that the training opportunities to students and community are through a) Dream Achiever programme in partnership with Impact Media Consortium, b) Ignite Programme with StartHub Africa, and c) Social Equity Programme with Junior Achievement Uganda.
Prof. Nawangwe said after research in electric vehicles and the successful manufacture of electric buses, which are plying the Entebbe-Kampala express highway, the university was eager to commercialize more innovations and contribute to the industralisation of the country and NDPIII.
The Director of the hub/centre said they have built International collaborations with the University of York to support commercialization, capacity building and programme rollout as well as the University of Cambridge focusing on Enterprise development programmes for Africa.
Makerere University Innovation Hub was established in August 2022, under the Vice Chancellor’s Office as a platform to provide support mechanisms for commercialization of innovations towards sustainable industrialization. The primary beneficiaries are students and staff, while the secondary beneficiaries are government, private sector, community, development partners and civil society.
The Innovations Hub is located at Makerere University Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility.