Academic commercialisation

Universities are a vital source of research and innovation, but how is the country faring in monetising academic work?

02 December 2022

Mpumelelo Nkomo, Walter Sisulu University. Photo: Karolina Komendera

Along the oak-lined streets of a small Cape winelands town, a quiet revolution is stirring in the corridors of one local university. Eight years after Stellenbosch University set up a campus incubator, academics there are lining up to commercialise their research in what the university’s head of innovation Anita Nel calls an ‘innovation spree’.

Since its LaunchLab incubator opened in 2014, the university has helped set up 29 spin-outs, almost double the 17 it set up in the preceding 16 years, according to university data. In all, says Nel, the incubator has helped more than 300 companies, which, combined, today generate over R300 million a year.

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