The scope and functionality of the National Innovation Competition as an instrument to promote academic entrepreneurship in South Africa
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This study focuses on academic entrepreneurship. It commences with a literature review on international trends in academic entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on incentive schemes used by selected countries to encourage innovativeness in academic institutions. Linkages between these incentives schemes and the improvement in the level of innovations made are demonstrated. This study will also show that in some countries, such as Brazil and Finland, these innovation incentives have led to the formation of start-up companies and an increased number of patents. The international scenario in academic entrepreneurship is linked to the South African scenario, as presented in the chapter on the science and technology landscape in South Africa. The main focus of the South African scenario will be on the National Innovation Competition (NIC), which is an instrument of the Innovation Fund specifically aimed at encouraging and providing innovation incentives at the level of higher education institutions. This research report also provide findings of interviews with different people within the academic entrepreneurship fraternity as well as an assessment of the differences between the winning and the non-winning business plans, which are used as a basis of providing incentives to the winners of the NIC. Recommendations are made in an attempt to provide solutions to the challenges encountered in the NIC at both institutional levels, as participants, and at government level, as funders of the NIC. This will hopefully improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the NIC. Although the NIC was only started in 2004, it is envisaged that areas of improvement can be identified at this early stage. This, coupled with the lessons learnt from the international literature review, will provide a mechanism that will make the NIC a powerful instrument to encourage innovation at HEI (Higher Education Institution) level. The conclusions drawn from this report include lessons learnt from the international literature review.
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