Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer

Dr. Medard Twinamatsiko

Director’s Message

Welcome to the Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer hereafter referred to as CITT- a home for Innovations, Skilling and Technology Transfer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). The Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer is the latest unit to be established at MUST.  The Centre was approved by the 68th sitting of the University Council in February 2018 and is mandated to coordinate, nurture and steer innovations capacity at MUST and beyond. The Centre brings together all Faculty-based innovation hubs, students innovation clubs and innovation projects operating at MUST. In executing its mandate by the University Council and in response to the MUST strategic plan and community needs, the Centre premises on enhancing the potentiality of University students and staff to innovate, co-create and generate commercially viable innovations that provide solutions to the challenges faced by the local, national and global communities. Furthermore, CITT is here to respond to the labour market demands, the skilling gap among the youths and the need for contextualizing new innovative and sustainable approaches to solving national, regional, and international challenges. At CITT, we aim at retooling and producing practical and hands-on graduates that have knowledge and skills to get absorbed in the fast-expanding industries and or with entrepreneurial skills to set up their own sustainable businesses.

 

ABOUT CENTRE FOR INNOVATIONS & TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

Set up by the 68th University Council in February 2018, Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer (CITT) is a one stop co-ordination point for all innovations, skilling initiatives and technology transfer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. It was set up to satisfy the need to co-ordinate all University innovations, skilling and technology transfer from all faculties and students. The Centre provides overall coordination for innovations and mentors, Faculties and other academic and research units in the innovation, skilling and technology transfer ecosystem within the University.

In implementing its mandate, CITT uses a uniquely designed CITT model to support innovators from the brainstorming/prototyping stage to the technology transfer phase where the innovations are produced to physical tangible products that have market value.

CITT MODEL

Research /Innovation                                    Training                                                Production

 

MISSION STATEMENT

To create a multidisciplinary ecosystem to inspire, nurture and promote the conversion of innovative ideas into commercially viable and sustainable products and businesses.

VISION 

To be a global Centre of excellence in affordable technology innovation and commercialization, skills development and entrepreneurship.

CITT CORE VALUES

  • Professionalization
  • Transparency
  • Teamwork
  • Accountability
  • Creativity
  • Applicability

Aim

To respond to the demands of the labor market, the need for contextualized new innovative approaches to solving regional, national and international challenges. We aim at retooling and producing graduates that have knowledge and practical skills to get absorbed in the fast-expanding industries and or with entrepreneurial skills to set up their own sustainable businesses.

Key functions / Strategic objectives

CITT carries out multiple functions born out of the mandate handed out by Council. These functions are born out of the strategic objectives CITT aims to achieve.

  1. To provide additional training to less skilled and unskilled graduates and prepare them to apply knowledge to experience with new skills, new attitudes and or new ways of thinking.
  2. To develop capacity and nurture the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer among MUST Staff, Students and the community.
  3. To source for funding towards innovation, technology transfer, retooling and skills development activities at MUST.
  4. To develop partnerships between academia and industry that will accelerate innovation, technology transfer and commercialization.
  5. To cultivate capabilities suiting emerging job markets and build entrepreneurship spirit and business management competencies among employable groups to create employment for themselves and others.
  6. To establish a job recruitment and selection center for different institutions, organizations and agencies.

Activities of CITT

In order to fulfil its key functions / objectives, CITT runs a plethora of activities namely;

Activities for Objective 1: To provide additional training to the unskilled graduates and prepare them apply knowledge to experience with new skills, new attitudes or new ways of thinking

  1. Carrying out Training Needs Assessment (TNA) to identify skills gaps and interests of different parties
  2. Developing Innovation curriculum and guidelines for implementation
  3. Inviting the potential learners by advertising in newspapers, and reaching them through the alumni
  4. Identifying key result areas, tasks and competence requirements
  5. Retraining of the less-skilled graduates in skills and apprenticeship
  6. Link the retrained graduates to job market opportunities

Activities for Objective 2:  To develop the capacity and nurture a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer among staff, student and community

  1. Enhancing staff capacity in grant writing, problem identification and human centered design as key ingredients for impactful innovation.
  2. Organizing business planning and entrepreneurship boot camps for innovators developing different products and services.
  3. Providing technical and practical help in the launch and commercialization of student and staff products and services.

Activities for Objective 3:  To source for funding towards innovation and technology transfer activities at MUST

  1. CITT leads the championing of resources mobilization for innovations and technology transfer at MUST through grant writing, corporate agreements, memoranda of understanding and partnerships.
  2. Creating a competitive fund to support innovations with greatest promise for impact, commercial viability and technical feasibility.
  3. Developing and overseeing the development and implementation of a strategic and business plan for the CITT

Activities for Objective 4: To develop partnerships between academia and industry that will accelerate innovation, technology transfer and commercialization

  1. Linking academia to challenges affecting industry players to increase the relevance of academic research to industry through bilateral dialogue.
  2. Leading the translation of academic research into commercially viable companies and or products
  3. Linking academic research to industry for licensure, venture capital funding and investment

Activities for Objective 5: To cultivate capabilities suiting emerging job markets and build entrepreneurship spirit and business management competence among employable groups to create employment for themselves and others

  1. Conducting market needs assessment
  2. Facilitating apprenticeship and industrial attachment for the trainees
  3. Organizing academic-job forums and sessions that engage private sector proprietors, prospective employees, and managers

Activities for Objective 6: To establish a job recruitment and selection center for different institutions, organizations and agencies

  1. Setting up infrastructure for technology incubation centers
  2. Creating a database for graduates and other competent skilled staff
  3. Creating awareness and engagement of both public and private sector on potential skilled employees
  4. Providing consultancy services to public and private sector

Departments

Currently, CITT is comprised of three departments. The work of these departments is super specialized in as much as they work in close collaboration to support innovations from the ideation phase to the technology transfer phase.

1. Department of prototyping and technology development

The department leads the processes of problem / challenge validation, ideation, prototype development and validation testing to attain proof of concept. This proof of concept development is conducted in close collaboration and oversight from the industrialization and commercialization officer and IP officer. These officers ensure design for manufacture right from the prototype development phase and timely IP protection respectively.

2. Department of experiential learning and practical skills training

This department is dedicated to offering practical skills-based short courses to: 1) Youth and other unskilled prospective participants who require further relevant skills. The department will also focus on retooling and reskilling graduates who require practical skills relevant to the current job needs and demands. 2) Employees in the formal sector with focus on Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, and 3) Self-employed workers and apprentices in the informal sector, master artisans and cooperatives.

        CITT as a Centre of innovation excellence cherishes collaborations with all University stakeholders to achieve an improved and vibrant innovation ecosystem at MUST. In this, we coordinate three strands in the University to pool together interdisciplinary expertise to enhance the quality and quantity of innovations in the University namely;

Innovation hubs. These are hubs housed within the different faculties that foster innovation work within the faculties. For example, , the Software Incubation Centre in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics and the Business Incubation Centre in the Faculty of Business and Management Studies.

 Innovation Projects. CITT coordinates a multitude of innovation projects that are at different stages in their innovation lifecycles. Some of the Innovation Projects are at the proof of concept phase, others at the prototype phase and some of the rest have gone on to become spin off companies. Such Projects include; Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) PHARMBIOTRAC, Simulation for Life, i-SOFT to mention but a few.

Innovation Clubs. CITT, being a centre of innovation at the University, values students as major stakeholders in the Innovation ecosystem. Consequentially, CITT takes on and curates a plethora of student clubs and associations that are focused on enhancing Innovation capabilities amongst the student body. Clubs under CITT at the moment are the i-SOFT Club and StartHub Club MUST.

CITT Innovation labs

In fostering and supporting innovators, CITT has a myriad of Innovation laboratories and demonstration sites at campus that illustrate innovators’ ideas, provide them a working space for development of their ideas and collaboration as well as providing the necessary resources for prototype development. Some of the innovation hubs are mentioned here below;

  1. CAMTech Co-creation Lab

The CAMTech Co-creation lab is located at town campus next to the Ophthalmology Ward. The CAMTech Co-creation lab is run by CAMTech, one of the Innovation projects under CITT. The CAMTech Co-Creation lab accepts innovators from all disciplines that have identified gaps in technology and their communities that they are working to solve. The Innovators are supported with Scientific Writing Workshops, Acceleration programs, collaborations and seed grants. This hub is an ideal place for young innovators to meet and connect.   

  1. The i-SOFT Demonstration Site.

The i-SOFT Demonstration Site is located at MUST Main Campus in Kihumuro. The i-SOFT Demonstration Site mainly supports innovations that fall within the agricultural economy. It is a centre for learning and training farmers and students in areas of modern farming techniques such as applications of organic fertilizers and organic pesticides. The Site also demonstrates a circular economy of converting biowaste from biomass into energy and protein that sustain the biomass in a circular sustainable manner. The Demonstration Site also produces bio gas and this presents potential to innovators interested in renewable energy to innovate around the areas of biogas and greenhouse impact.

  1. PHARMBIOTRAC Product Development Laboratories

PHARMBIOTRAC is an innovative centre established to accelerate the development of medicines from traditional natural herbs. It is an incubation centre at MUST for innovators interested in developing medicine from herbal products. The centre incubates and nurtures these innovations into commercial products.  PHARMIOTRAC is housed at Kihumuro Campus, Fourth floor of the FAST Building.

INDUSTRIAL VALUE CHAIN ECONOMIES

Currently, CITT is in the process of streamlining innovations at the University by integrating a variety of economies under which these innovations belong. For a start, we are integrating;

  1. The Pathogen economy

The Pathogen economy will be a classification of innovations under CITT that aim to improve the treatment of diseases. They shall include medicines, and hospital equipment to mention but a few. 

  1. The Digital economy

The digital Economy is an area of innovation with special emphasis on application of digital tools like mobile and computer applications to solve the daily challenges faced by communities. Under this, CITT will be offering the necessary support to digital innovators to grow and nurture their innovations at MUST.  

  1. The Import Substitution economy

Agriculture being the backbone of Uganda’s economy, CITT is working to ensure that necessary support is availed to students and staff working to innovate smart Agricultural practices. Through value addition of agricultural products and processes already in place, import substitution for the Country’s manufacturing chain and economic ecosystem can be enhanced.  Thus, Agricultural value addition leading to import substitution shall be a focal area for CITT. 

  1. Energy Economy

As the world transitions to smart and clean energy, it is important that innovators working towards creating smart and cheap energy and energy consumption methods are accorded the necessary support. In this regard, CITT is preparing herself to work and collaborate with innovators working around the fields of clean energy. 

  1. Mobility Economy

Innovators in and around the area of transport and logistics are highly welcome for support under CITT. The Centre of Innovation and Technology Transfer is open to innovations that intend to produce safer means of transport, faster transport or even cheaper transport. Safer means of transportation result into increased mobility for the Nation’s people and goods. The secondary benefits of flexible and safer mobility translate into improved industrialization, easy movement of people and faster service delivery. 

  1. Aeronautics and Space Science

CITT welcomes innovators working around the field of utilizing the potential Space Science offers. Innovators interested in working towards moving to Space, providing better connection by Stationing in space among many other innovations are welcome to work with CITT in improving the technology landscape of MUST and the whole country at large.

 

The CAMTech Cocreation Lab

The Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) cocreation lab is one of the Innovation Hubs under CITT. The CAMTech Cocreation Lab is located at MUST Town Campus next to the Ophthalmology Ward. 

The lab takes in Innovators of all disciplines that have identified gaps in their communities that they are innovating to find solutions for. The lab is managed by Ms. Nambogo Nuriat and Mr. Mukama Martin. The Innovators under CAMTech Cocreation Lab are taken through an Acceleration program. In the Acceleration program, innovators are offered incubation for their ideas. Acceleration is the complete process comprised of various programs from which an innovation is transformed from a simple idea to a physical prototype that is market viable. The Innovators are also given access to CAMTech resources like mentorship, scientific writing lessons, 3D Printing services, software purchase as well as Grant Proposal Writing among others.

CAMTech also has an annual seed Grant competition in which the Innovators at MUST are asked to submit project proposals for the three best teams to take home 5500 USD. In this way, CAMTech offers incentive to develop the Innovations ecosystem at MUST as well as adding value to Innovators in the form of mentorship, resources and seed grant capital.  

CAMTech currently has running partnerships with multiple national and multinational bodies aligned to improve innovations in Uganda and across the borders;

  • University of Ngozi in Burundi where CAMTech works alongside the University in organizing innovation Hackathons for the students.
  • University of Ilinois in USA for exchange programs and joint Scientific Writing Workshops.
  • Ministry of ICT and National Guidance as well as Uganda Research Institute to mention but a few

Over the years, CAMTech has produced several award winning innovations from its cocreation lab which include; PRISMS a phone application that connects patients to pediatricians, MobiCare, Sanidrop, Digital Speech Assistant, Motap etc

For the future, CAMTech hopes to get larger space for lab work and mentorship workshops and have the current innovations from CAMTech scaled up.

I-SOFT Demonstration Site.

The i-SOFT Demonstration Site is located at MUST Main Campus in Kihumuro. The Demonstration Site is one of the outputs of the Innovative Sustainable Organic Farming Techniques (i-SOFT) Project. The i-SOFT Demonstration site was majorly set up as a site for students to learn more about agricultural techniques and host practical sessions therein. It is also an initiative by CITT to engage the community and host farmers for sessions on Value Addition and lessons on new techniques of Organic farming. The i-SOFT Demonstration Site is another of the Innovation Hubs under co-ordination of CITT at the University.  The Demonstration Site houses a shed that comprises of an office, a store and a training area. It also has a greenhouse for greenhouse farming, an area for student practical sessions and a biogas production facility.

Activities at the i-SOFT Demonstration Site.

The i-SOFT Demonstration site specializes in four modules which are;

  1. Bioorganic fertilizers.

Under this module, the Demonstration Site is a site at which i-SOFT produces bioorganic fertilizers which are processed from biowaste from animals and plants. The 100% fertilizer is processed and packaged at the site in both liquid and solid form and sold to customers in the market.

The i-SOFT bio-organic fertilizer processing is also demonstrated to farmers during i-soft Community outreaches and site visits to the i-SOFT demonstration site.

  1. i-SOFT App

The i-SOFT App is another brainchild of the i-SOFT Project. The i-SOFT market App seeks to develop a digital platform for directly connecting to farmers using the i-SOFT bioorganic fertilizer products as well seeking digital marketing opportunities for the products produced under i-SOFT. 

  1. Entrepreneurship

At the Demonstration site, participants are taken through entrepreneurship modules focused on training farmers and students on commercialization skills for agricultural produce. The modules include market viability study lessons, business canvas, Accounting for farmers as well Digital marketing skills and more.

  1. Value addition.

For Value Addition, the i-SOFT Demonstration site has a section for biogas production from bio-waste. This is to demonstrate production of energy from a circular economy. The site also does Value Addition for prospective farmers by demonstrating Urban Farming techniques like Potted plants, sack mode for growing plants and greenhouse method.

Resources

The i-SOFT Demonstration Site is supplied by two water tanks, 10,000L and 2500l capacities, that pick their water from rainwater harvesting. The demonstration site also has a collection point for cow dung and all other forms of bio waste. This biowaste is used in the production of Organic Fertilizer. The farm also is supplied by bio gas for energy processes and this gas is produced within the demonstration site itself.

The Demonstration site is attended to by human resource comprised of a team of skilled and semi-skilled labor.

Products.

In addition to being a learning site, the Demonstration Site also produces organic products that are revenue generating projects. The site champions production of;

  • Organic Fertilizer
  • Biogas
  • Training for farmers and students
  • Organic Pesticide
  • Innovations by the i-soft Club which include the i-soft App, Mineral lake.

The beginnings of Innovative Sustainable Organic Farming Techniques (I SOFT)

In 2020, Dr Nkurunungi John Bosco presented his idea for an innovation called Innovative Sustainable Organic Farming Techniques now popularly known as ISOFT to CITT and emerged the first winner of CITT’s Seed grant amounting to 4.5 million Uganda Shillings.

Innovative Sustainable Organic Farming Techniques (ISOFT) was premised on the concept of a circular Bio Economy.  Dr. Nkurunungi demonstrated that with the existence of land, Biomass like grass and trees and Animals there is presence of waste ISOFT could harness the waste to harvest three products; Energy (Bio fuels, briquettes), Organic Fertilizer and Protein (animal feeds). This economy would be circular in a sense that people would be able to use the Biofuel, the fertilizer would go back to the earth to produce more biomass and the Protein would be used in the ecosystem to nourish animal life.

From the CITT seed Grant, Dr. Nkurunungi was able to construct the first Biodigester at the ISOFT demonstration site at Kihumuro campus that produced an amount of biogas from biowaste. From this, ISOFT demonstrated that a circular economy was possible, albeit the demonstration was small scale and on a small piece of land.

Currently, DR Nkurunungi works privately with a private company called Bio-Innovations Uganda that focuses on harnessing the potential of Bio Innovators at a very large scale. He is also focused on producing briquettes from saw dust among other projects.

Future prospects

Value addition in Bio Innovations

Large scale production of a circular bio economy

Harnessing the potential of Bio Innovators.

“The core of Bio Innovation is to support projects in conversion of waste into wealth. “ Dr Nkurunungi John Bosco.