Building a entrapreneurial and innovative eco system around a university

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Aart Boessenkool
University of Johannesburg

Building a entrapreneurial and innovative eco system around a university

Keywords: Innovation, entrepreneurship, incubator, pre-incubator, Technology Transfer Office, ideas lounge,


• the main problem addressed and the aims of the project (introduction)

In the past number of decades, the need for the development of entrepreneurs as well as ensuring that new ideas are commercialised have led to the development of various models to address this with a number of different role players that take the lead. There are also a number of standalone models just for incubation or commercialisation.

Cities or regions have struggled to develop an eco-system for the development of new ideas and helping entrepreneurs who are essential catalysts for developing cities and regions.

• the process, i.e. the methods used and/or approach taken

The development of Technology Transfer Offices at universities have introduced a new player in this field and are accepted by business and society. Therefore, the University TTO can be seen as a partner to all parties.
They also operate in a highly innovative environment and are used to analysing a possibility with new eyes. They do not always have the commercial know how but can be the catalyst to develop an eco-system that can accommodate any entrepreneur or innovator to develop the idea and create sustainable businesses.

The components for the eco system are the following:

Place for development of new ideas – a space where ideas can be bounced off, be criticized or developed this could be called the “i lounge” with its rules and protocol and in an innovative environment that could be placed at that university. This would also help to make the university part of the society as there will be people from both inside and outside of the university.

The evaluation space of the idea which is a typical service by the TTO. This would include commercial viability, intellectual property and ideally this should be linked but outside of the university and managed by the TTO

Pre incubator – just a good idea with some commercial prospect does not warrant a space in an incubator. The pre-incubator is where the idea and proof of concept is transformed to a prospective business. This is where the entrepreneur end the innovator are matched and an effective team is built. This ensures that the team sent to the incubator has a better and faster road to success. This is also outside but close to the TTO.

The team that completes the pre-incubator will be able to and is ready for assistance in an incubator that has the ready assistance of financial, legal, funding, mentoring etc. that they will need to survive in the commercial world.
• the results and impact

This would result in an eco-system that has multiple entry and exit points and will ensure efficiency and has the correct specialists at the places needed to ensure that the system produces innovation executed by entrepreneurs.

• the conclusion, including learning opportunities and future potential

The innovation and entrepreneurial space are high risk and needs different methods at different times. This space needs to be managed by a driver that has one aim and that is creating the possibilities for inventors and entrepreneurs and the university TTO can be this driver.
This eco system can be replicated around more TTO offices and marketing, collaboration by business, government can be facilitated.