Sifelani Tsiko-Innovations Editor
The fourth edition of the University of Zimbabwe Research Innovation and Industrialisation Week opens today to showcase new frontiers of knowledge and emerging technology that seeks solutions to some of the national and community problems.
UZ executive director of research innovation Professor Florence Mtambanengwe, said yesterday that the annual showpiece will run this week under the theme: “University of Zimbabwe: Actualisation of a Research-Innovation-Industrialisation Ecosystem Model for Zimbabwe’s Economic Development.”
“This year’s event is special in that apart from university researchers and students exhibiting their innovations, we have also invited our strategic partners in Government, industry and commerce to participate alongside us,” she said.
“We are doing this to develop partnerships for relevant solutions that respond to national priorities as spelt out in NDS1 and Vision 2030.”
The event has attracted more than 100 exhibitors from the institute’s 11 faculties, directorates and institutions.
About 30 research undergraduate innovators and start-ups under the UZ innovator programme at the hub will also participate and showcase their work.
Activities at the week-long event will cover display of products and innovations, high level dialogue sessions and keynote presentations by Government ministers, vice chancellors, CEOs and renowned experts.
In addition to this, there will be a moot court run by young law students.
On the final day, there will be an open day targeting high school pupils and other youth.
“We want our youth to get to know our university and appreciate the new programmes that are Education 5.0 compliant and the career guidance,” Prof Mtambanengwe said.
Some of the major highlights of the event will include the showcasing of a solar-powered tobacco curing barn that aims to reduce deforestation, smart agriculture technologies, and an array of value addition and digital innovations.
The UZ Research Innovation and Industrialisation Week was set up for communicating and showcasing research and innovations by UZ academics and researchers, including staff and students in collaboration with their diverse partners, with a view to promoting uptake of research outputs and to attract partnerships with industry, commerce and the civic society.
“I am going to attend the event on Saturday,” said Shami Choruma, an A-level student.
“I want to learn more about microbiology, a course I want to study. I hope this platform will open my mind.”
Thembe Dube, another student said: “Such events open our minds and guide us on our future courses. When I finish my A’Levels I want to study engineering.”
A number of UZ students have over the past few years come up with innovations that were being developed to the commercialisation stage. Tafadzwa Muusha, a Business Studies and Computer Science graduate developed a smart blind stick – which is set to assist in the development of devices that help people with visual impairments.
The innovation was showcased at the University of Zimbabwe Innovation Hub last year.
Leo Muchenje, another University of Zimbabwe graduate developed a web application to provide the public with better access to pharmacies dotted around towns, cities and other parts of rural areas in the country.
His pharmacy locator application features an interactive platform that makes life easier for patients who no longer need to worry about moving from one pharmacy to the other searching for medication.
Zimbabwe has invested heavily in innovation hubs at various universities in the country to promote innovation and the research to address the country’s pressing problems.
The country was now harnessing scientific approaches and technology to attain industrialisation and build a critical knowledge capital and relevant skills.