Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) has said the country can easily grow its social economic development sector if graduates go beyond knowledge acquisition and start embracing innovations that can enhance positive change.
The university’s deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Jonathan Makuwira, said this when he opened an Innovation Garage at Must Campus in Thyolo aimed at fine-tuning ideas that are pitched by its graduating students.
“As a country we have many opportunities to prosper but we seem to lose focus. We are reluctant to put our knowledge to good use,” he said.
Makuwira added that the institution will support student innovations as they stand to make the university a ‘genuine science and technology institution.’
Head of the university’s research unit, Centre for Innovation and Industrial Research (CIIR), David Mkwambisi, said the project under his department was casting its net wider in its quest to promote innovation.
“The Innovation Garage actually has four components. Apart from the students and graduates, we will also be looking at community members, secondary school students and the industrial sector at large.
“Anyone with innovative ideas from these groups will be supported to give them a platform to nurture their idea until it becomes economically viable. We are confident of becoming another giant innovation hub in the region,” he said.
Mkwambisi, who is also an associate professor at the university, said the Innovation Garage will accord participants under incubation the chance to fine tune their ideas until they become viable.
To make the grade, the students will submit their innovative ideas through an innovation challenge which the university implements. This year, the challenge attracted 56 entries from where the first 16 best ideas were picked for incubation.
Meanwhile, all the selected innovators, who are working with lecturers as coaches, are undergoing a workshop focusing on innovation development processes, pitching and business model development.
Apart from the innovation programme, CIIR is also implementing various programmes including the USAid-funded Innovation Scholar Programme; Innovation Capacity Building Programme funded by Smoke Free World Foundation, and the Africa Drone and Data Academy which is funded by Unicef.