NWU Enterprises: A new commercial frontier

“We are on a journey.” Duncan Raftesath’s elbows are resting on the desk in front of him, his hands clasped together, and as he speaks, his smile widens. “We are on a very exciting journey,” the project manager of NWU Enterprises reaffirms with contagious energy.

If all goes according to plan, the expedition that Duncan Raftesath is referring to will pending Council approval – lead to the establishment of NWU Enterprises (Pty) Ltd within a year.

The company, which will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the NWU, will operate as a platform that connects researchers with customers, and also provides enabling services such as business development, project management, project resourcing and more.

NWU Enterprises will focus specifically on commercial transactions where the NWU provides directed research, consulting or other knowledge-based products to customers for a fee, while meeting customer requirements.

Let’s simplify that description a bit.

Imagine two opposite points. On the left we have a specific industry with its commercial needs. They have a problem, and they need a solution.

On the right side we have the NWU, which has the expertise and the know-how to solve this problem.

There is, however, no line of communication between the two. A platform to connect them is needed, and that platform is NWU Enterprises. The product sold by NWU Enterprises will be the expertise of the university.

But there is more.

“The purpose of the company will be about impacting society through commercial transactions between experts from the NWU and industry, commerce or governments.

“The business of the company will be to provide services and resources to enable such commercial transactions. Through NWU Enterprises, an industry will be able to contact us and say: ‘We have a problem, and we would like to work with you to solve it.’

“Personnel at the university are busy, often log-jammed, and part of the goal of NWU Enterprises will be to find and deploy the support and resources to open a practical path for researchers’ ideas that they want to put to commercial use,” says Duncan.

NWU Enterprises will work seamlessly with the NWU’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Support (TTIS) team who will remain responsible for managing the processes of protecting discoveries and nurturing them into products and services.

“Our goal is to build a community of people who can make our many commercial endeavours a success. The company will find contractors and extra resources, employ project managers and negotiate collaborations and deals. It will be responsible for project procurement and project budgetary processes.

“We want to further build the NWU’s brand and make it easier for outsiders to work with the university. If you are a researcher with a brilliant idea, we want to know how we can capacitate you to help make an impact on society,” Duncan concludes.

The university will keep you informed about the progress of NWU Enterprises (Pty) Ltd as our footprint as an innovation leader continues to grow.

“The establishment of NWU Enterprises has been highlighted as a strategic priority in the NWU strategy to support and enable growth and we are excited about this positive progress,” says Prof Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka, NWU principal and vice-chancellor.

Submitted on Wed, 02/21/2024 - 10:20