Unam advances technology transfer skills

Junior Kapofi
The University of Namibia (Unam) recently marked a significant milestone in its commitment to fostering innovation and advancing technology transfer capabilities.
Leonard Imene, coordinator for Innovation and business development at Unam, recently completed an intensive on-the-job training programme, facilitated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) and the Japan Patent Office.
The programme, conducted at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) towards the end of last year, aimed to equip professionals from Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states with advanced skills in technology transfer and intellectual property (IP) management. Imene, alongside Nadia Jansen from the Namibia University of Science and Technology, represented Namibia in this endeavour.

Bridging gaps
Imene underscored the importance of the training: "This training was not merely about personal skill enhancement but about acquiring a wealth of knowledge and strategies to propel Unam to the forefront of innovation and technology transfer in Namibia."
During the eight-week programme, Imene engaged in various activities, including campus tours focusing on research centres at UWC, participation in Technology Transfer Office (TTO) quarterly meetings and discussions on IP management and commercialisation strategies.
A pivotal aspect of the training revolved around comprehending the role of TTOs in bridging the gap between university research and innovation communities and the commercial sector. "Understanding UWC's approach to managing IP disclosure, safeguarding potential socio-economic value and facilitating IP commercialisation was enlightening. It provided a blueprint that we at Unam could tailor and implement within our own context," Imene said.

Equipped with essential skills
Unam's Centre for Innovation and Development, entrusted with managing the TTO at the university, views Imene's participation as pivotal for integrating the requisite TTO skill sets.
The training sessions delved into comprehensive aspects of IP policy, TTO processes and stakeholder engagement, aligning with Unam's ethos towards innovation and technology transfer.
One of the key insights gleaned by Imene was the significance of collaboration. "UWC's collaboration with Cape Peninsula University of Technology and local IP law firms underscores the importance of strategic partnerships in fortifying the national TTO pipeline," he said.
Furthermore, the training underscored the imperative for continual capacity building and the potential for international collaboration, particularly in burgeoning domains such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). UWC's Innovation Hub presents promising avenues for partnerships in these areas.