When we were visiting Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in last November (read related story), we agreed to return soon to start the activities together with staff, students and the industry, and this happened last week!
NM-AIST organized a big stakeholder workshop for the surrounding industry and business community to get to know the Institute and to see how interested they were in collaborating together with the Institute. For most visitors this was the first time they were at NM-AIST and they seemed very positively surprised of this new university’s approach to learning, working and doing research.
The workshop had a group discussion session where stakeholders, students and staff discussed different options for the collaboration. What came out from the discussions were numerous approaches for starting industry collaboration with NM-AIST by joint research and innovation projects, industry visits and exchange programs, using research approaches to solve societal problems in the surrounding communities especially in the areas of water, waste management, ICT, energy and health, and many other ideas. Perhaps most importantly, it was clear that both the stakeholders and NM-AIST really want to get this started.
On Saturday we facilited a follow-up workshop for the students and some staff on making the mechanisms of collaboration more clear and practical, how the industry collaboration could be connected to the research all NM-AIST M.Sc. and PhD students are working on, and how the industry collaboration could serve as a platform for innovation. This workshop was carried out through different kinds of brainstorming and group harvesting techniques, and all the ideas and concrete next steps resulted in almost a 50 page report, so there’s definitely a good base now for taking the collaboration forward.
What was again so fantastic about working at NM-AIST, is that the students are seen as peers and their input and ideas form the major body of activities that are carrying this industry collaboration forward. During the workshops it also became clear that research is what the students at NM-AIST are most passionate about but they are equally passionate about making their research count through impact on the society – for this industry collaboration is a great tool, because it connects research with industry’s and society’s problems and demands innovation and new solutions. Through TANZICT and our partners we look forward to supporting this process!
Here are some photos of the both workshop days. Licenced under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike as usual.