By Mark Kawalya
Makerere University, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has unveiled a modern innovation hub that is intended to spur student creativity and open up employment opportunities. The Makerere University Innovations Pod, launched on January 9, 2023, boasts state-of-the-art equipment and will be used for inventive creations.
During the hub’s commissioning, Makerere’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabus Nawangwe, articulated the university’s longstanding vision of evolving into a fully entrepreneurial modern institution. The partnership with UNDP has brought this vision to reality, providing students with a venue to exhibit their creative abilities across diverse fields including science and technology, fashion and design, engineering, and multimedia.
Prof. Nawangwe underscored the significance of upscaling innovation to transform universities into engines of progress, generating both inventions and practical skills. “The goal is not only to nurture theoretical learning but also to equip students to create jobs and contribute to societal development,” Nawangwe said.
UNDP’s resident representative for Uganda, Elsie Attafuah, emphasized the need for strategically positioning universities to foster growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She called upon leaders to create conducive conditions that empower students to create wealth, enabling them to play an important role in building the economy and addressing unemployment challenges.
The Makerere University Innovations Hub is organized into different sections for departments including food technology, design, multimedia journalism, engineering, and biochemistry. The hub is structured to cater to students with an eye for exploration and creativity, providing a platform for startup incubation, participating in workshops, and fostering collaborations with local and international organizations.
Nathan Tumuhamye, UNDP’s head of exploration, highlighted the hub’s inclusivity, saying it will be open to any student who is passionate about innovation. He added that plans are underway to replicate similar hubs at other universities, developing them to cater to the specific niches and strengths of each institution. Students at Makerere University could not hide their excitement about the hub, citing its potential to propel their creativity into tangible businesses. The hub is slated to commence operations on January 23, 2024.