An uprising of a different kind was launched recently when Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price announced the start of a 20-week initiative in which UCT students are invited to imagine a new Africa.
The challenge forms part of UCT Upstarts, a platform for emerging entrepreneurs and the joint vision of the vice-chancellor, director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (based at UCT's Graduate School of Business) Dr Francois Bonnici, and social entrepreneur Gina Levy.
"The idea behind UCT Upstarts is to promote a different student culture at UCT – " said Price, "one that encourages an innovation mindset that solves real-world problems from campus; a mindset that is orientated to creating jobs for oneself and others (not just finding a job), and the skills to launch start-up ventures."
Bonnici added, "UCT Upstarts speaks directly to our desire to inspire and challenge individuals, organisations and systems to question what is, re–imagine what can be, and to get behind and deliver those solutions that have the potential to transform the world we live in."
Price considers the initiative an additional curriculum will run parallel to students' conventional curriculum for the next 20 weeks: "It's the part of your studies that happen on your own time, where you meet people from outside your faculty. Everyone knows that the really great ideas come when people from different backgrounds, cultures and disciplines come together to make something happen. You can expect to be coached by people who have done it before, who have set up their own businesses and who have fallen down many times and picked themselves up."
Every Monday ('Mind–blowing Mondays'), Wednesday ('Workshop Wednesdays') and Friday ('Fun Fridays') during lunchtime students will experience inspiring, imaginative and interactive pop–up classes, workshops and activations as part of their social innovation curriculum.
In September, each team will exhibit their ideas at a campus expo and then post them to Thundafund.com (a local crowdfunding platform). Teams that create the most compelling, innovative and socially impactful ideas will be shortlisted and interviewed in the run–up to an 'idea auction' – a live bidding platform where movers–and–shakers will bid coaching time; resources; equity; internships; networks; a year's incubation at the GBS Solution Space; travel opportunities to some of the most innovative companies in the world; guaranteed entry into the regional round of the Global Social Venture Competition in London; media exposure; and cash to help launch students' revolutionary start-up ideas into action.
"UCT Upstarts is igniting a start-up student nation by mobilising a movement of innovation activists, creating an innovation culture that makes South Africa work better, and driving an innovation economy that creates jobs – starting from our campus," Levy remarked.
Story by Abigail Calata. Photo by Michael Hammond.
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