The MUBS Innovation Hub

 

Innovation Hubs bring together the thinkers, researchers, authors, and visionaries who are crafting our future. The MUBS Principal Prof. Waswa Balunywa took time off to explain the importance of the MUBS Innovation Hub

Way back in the 1990s, MUBS wanted to start an incubator to support business start up as part of its entrepreneurship studies. We wanted a Small Business Development Centre; the logic was that, it is small businesses that need support because of their lack of finances, right skills, lack of access to markets, information and low adaptation of technology. As an academic institution, we wanted to focus on training the small business owners and support them to over the barriers to growth, so we started the business development center.

We did some survey around the world to identify incubators and we found that there are different types of incubators with different names such as, innovation parks, business accelerators, business incubators and business development centers. We realized that we did not have the resources to go into this on a full scale; therefore, we decided to focus our attention on training. Unfortunately this was not very successful, we found that very few people want to pay money for training and there is also a problem of multilateral institutions and Non-Government Organizations ( NGOs)training for free. Some of the NGOs not only train but also give allowances to the trainees! This destroys the motivation of business people to improve themselves. We nonetheless continued and we were able to secure small contracts to train people.

 

MUBS Offers training opportunities to women in Business

Subsequently we decided to focus on developing entrepreneurial abilities at different levels that is micro and corporate levels. We linked up with several institutions to start on this process of fostering entrepreneurship. This was done with various degrees of success we changed focus to start training our own students. We introduced the business plan competition and we got support from one of the prominent entrepreneurs in the country, Mr. Patrick Bitature. The intention was to encourage business startups among our students. This worked for some time and we added the business creation support services to create an incubator. It was at this stage that the African Development Bank (AfDB) offered assistance to the Ugandan Government to improve higher education and develop incubators in public Universities. By the time the bank offered this assistance, the Entrepreneurship Centre had planned to expand its activities by introducing an innovation facility to primarily support Information Technology (IT) innovations. It planned a small building for this purpose.

The AfDB funding will go into developing a building and kick start business incubation. The entrepreneurship Centre will merge with the proposed incubation hub to combine the services of innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovations emerge from research in science and in recent years, major innovations are coming from IT developments. The innovation hub intends to encourage innovation in IT. With sufficient funding, we intend to attract scientists researching into usable products for local markets. The building is expected to be completed by June 2017. In the meantime, the activities of the entrepreneurship Centre and innovation hub are now under one roof.

Newsletter Article : December 2016

Makerere Business Journal

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