UNAM launches //Kharas Innovation Hub

29 Nov 2017 19:40pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 29 NOV (NAMPA) – The University of Namibia (UNAM) on Wednesday launched its Southern Campus’s //Kharas Innovation Hub (KIH) with the aim to boost entrepreneurship and economic activity in the southern regions.
UNAM simultaneously held the KIH International Symposium and Namibia-Saarland Business Forum at a local hotel in Keetmanshoop, together with its project partners.
UNAM Southern Campus has teamed up with the State of Saarland in Germany, home to an entrepreneurship university and a number of industries including food processing, textile manufacturing and coal mining, as main partner.
The KIH will be housed at the campus’s new facilities currently under construction. The Keetmanshoop campus is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018, the campus’s Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr Erold Naomab said at the event.
Naomab said the idea of a hub was borne out of the campus’s aspiration to stimulate economic activity through innovation in the southern //Kharas and Hardap regions.
Since then, the campus secured buy-in from UNAM’s leadership and potential local partners like the Development Bank of Namibia, National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, //Kharas Regional Council, De Beers, Skorpion Zinc and some entrepreneurs.
International partners such as the Botswana Innovation Hub, Leibniz Institute for New Materials, German development agency (GIZ), and Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme, were also approached.
All these partners were represented at the simultaneous launch, plenary session and workshop of the ambitious innovation project.
Naomab said the operational part of the hub would start right away with training and further attempts of securing funding to establish the centre, planned to include a lab and various technological infrastructure.
The three key areas of the hub will be the technology transfer lab, start-up entrepreneurship, and the value-chain accelerator.
Naomab said the KIH is a separate non-formal academic programme that will be offered to motivated, entrepreneurial individuals.
The most prominent sectors in the south currently are agribusiness, logistics, mining, tourism and manufacturing.
Naomab said these offer great potential for new ideas, expansion and value addition.
Dr Alex Koch of Saarland University gave advice on what is required to have an operational innovation centre and what is needed to nurture entrepreneurship in communities, especially young people.
Dr Budzanani Tacheba of the Botswana Innovation Hub, shared best practices and emphasised the importance of creating products and jobs in Africa.