MTN, UCT’s Graduate School of Business whip up R15m innovation deal

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One of Africa’s top business schools, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB), and major telecom MTN have announced a multi-million rand partnership that would further help them catalyse innovation in emerging markets.

According to the press release, MTN Group is dedicating R15-million over the next three years in the university’s local innovation hub, the MTN Solution Space.

Backed by the UCT Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Fund, The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as SAB, the Solution Space was launched in March last year. It aims to break the mould of traditional business education and commits to finding creative solutions for unique African problems.

MTN Solution Space is home to prestigious startups such as Lumkani which has developed an early-warning fire detection solution. The startup won the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Global Social Venture Competition and scooped second place in two separate categories at South Africa’s innovation summit.

Read more: Impact Beyond Innovation: How Lumkani’s fire detection system is saving lives

As exiting as this deal may be, it’s not that big a surprise. MTN has over the last few years shown a strong commitment to stay on top on the continent’s innovation game. This has most notably been seen through partnerships with the major German startup factory Rocket Internet as well as its local chapter, the Africa Internet Holding group.

Read more: MTN ready to pour in $400m into Africa & Middle East startups

“We foresee Africa’s brightest and most innovative minds collaborating to find new solutions that grow from test environments into new markets. We look forward to elevating the profile of cutting-edge African innovators and entrepreneurs,” Paul Norman, chief human resources and corporate affairs officer of MTN Group says.

Sarah-Anne Arnold, manager of the MTN Solution Space, who says the partnership represents a truly symbiotic and purposeful venture into the future.

MTN already has an extensive footprint in Africa and the GSB has a strong representation of African students at the business school, combined with a reputation for research and academic excellence. So we are combining our strengths for a common purpose – finding solutions to the biggest challenges facing our continent.

“The UCT GSB is dedicated to developing a new paradigm for learning and research with an emphasis on building African solutions and innovations. In collaboration with MTN we will be able to create better outcomes,” professor Walter Baets, director of the UCT GSB adds. “Our combined networks – civil society partners, industry experts, policy makers and practitioners — create a collaborative innovation landscape like no other.”

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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