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UFS students win Innovation prize
2007-11-05

 

From the left are, front: Kasey Kakoma (member of the winning team) and Ji-Yun Lee (member of the winning team); back: Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS), Lehlohonolo Mathengtheng (member of the winning team) and Prof. Gerrit van Wyk (consultant from Technology Transfer Projects who arranged the first phase of the competition).
Photo (Leonie Bolleurs):
 

UFS students win Innovation prize

Prizes to the value of R100 000 were recently handed to students in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) during a prize winners function of the National Innovation Competition.
“The competition is sponsored by the Innovation Fund, which was established by the national Department of Science and Technology and is managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The competition seeks to develop innovation and entrepreneurship amongst students in higher education institutions,” said Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector of Academic Operations at the UFS.

Most universities in South Africa take part in the competition. “The first phase of the competition is per university where students can win prize money to the value of R100 000. The three winners then compete in the national competition, where prize money to the value of R600 000 can be won,” said Prof. Verschoor.

Eight teams from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences competed in the local competition. The teams had to submit a business plan, which was judged by six external adjudicators.

The winning team from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology submitted their business plan with the title: “Using bacteriophages to combat specific bacterial infections in poultry". The team, consisting of Kasey Kakoma from Zambia, Lehlohonolo Mathengtheng from South Africa, and Ji-Yun Lee from South Korea, were awarded R50 000 in cash. All three students are Master’s degree students in Microbiology in the Veterinary Biotechnology Research group at the UFS.

The team who came second was from the Department of Physics with team leader Lisa Coetzee and they received R30 000. The title of their project was “Light of the future”. The third prize of R20 000 went to Lizette Jordaan of the Department of Chemistry with a project entitled: “Development of a viable synthetic route towards a natural substrate with possible application in the industry”.

Prof. Gerrit van Wyk, former dean of the UFS Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and consultant for Technology Transfer Projects, annually drives this competition.

In his announcement of the winners of the first phase of the 2007 National Innovation Competition, Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the UFS Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, said innovation and entrepreneurship are important to stimulate and create sustainable economic growth in South Africa. “Through this competition universities get the opportunity to show to South Africa its capabilities in the arena of innovation and commercialisation of ideas,” he said.

To proceed to the second phase of the competition, the business plans of the three finalists from each qualifying higher education institution will be submitted for the national competition. The best three students from each participating institution will exhibit their innovations at the national awards ceremony early in 2008. The top ten entrants and subsequently the best three business plans from the total entries will then be short listed. The prize money won at the national competition has to be used for the commercialisation of the project or the founding of a company.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
5 November 2007
 

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