|Research Uptake in CPUT’s Research and Innovation Strategy|
|Wednesday, 10 June 2015 11:51|
At research intensive universities there is always a tension between the traditional focus on producing research to enhance the university’s international standing and the new imperative to produce and promote research that contributes to national development. Can universities focus on each of these objectives without compromising the other?
In a presentation made at the 2015 SARIMA Conference entitled “Incentivizing relevance in research and innovation. A Research Uptake Strategy”, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Head of RIT Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, Prof Shaun Pather and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo, outlined the significance of institutionalising Research Uptake in the second phase of the university’s research and innovation growth process.
Although CPUT has not traditionally been a research-intensive university it is now on a research and development trajectory, with a vision of being at the heart of technology education and innovation and a mission of enhancing and developing the quality and effectiveness of research and knowledge production at the university.
Roles of Universities in the National System of Innovation
The South African government’s National Development Plan 2030 specifically notes “South Africa’s competitiveness will rely on national systems of innovation permeating the culture of business and society… Innovation and learning must become part of our culture” .
Increasingly universities are being asked to play a more active role in development.
This requires a change in the culture of the university. Fortunately, despite having being been previously instituionally organised around teaching, and not having a strong tradition of research, CPUT has been able to change its focus in order to become a role player in the NSI.
CPUT defines Research Uptake as an activity that “encompasses the processes by which the knowledge which is generated through research is adapted, and transformed into outcomes which are applied within designated real-world contexts. Thus Uptake thus implies communication of research outcomes to user audiences. As well as innovation which is the process of transforming research outputs into a new or improved service, product, process, approach or policy which addresses an identified need in any sphere of society”.
As is the case in all South African universities CPUT’s academics have been driven to produce academic articles. The government provides incentives for publication in notable academic journals to publish. But to date, there is no similar government mechanism to recognize research and innovation that is taken up and utilised. CPUT is taking its own steps to adapt its academic environment to meet its development mission and vision.
To promote Research Uptake the university has taken a change management approach rather than providing ad hoc incentives. It has developed mechanisms which will facilitate the institutionalisation of Research Uptake. Prof Pather’s presentation illustrates the practical steps that are underway.
Institutionalising Research Uptake
With a clear set of objectives and mechanisms to achieve these objectives, CPUT has started to develop a new understanding of the role of research for development and the importance of Research Uptake in this process.
Prof Shaun Pather Head of Research & Technology-Innovation Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, CPUT