Stellenbosch University's Technology Transfer Office Innovus (TTO) has won the DSI-SARIMA Award for Organisational Excellence in Innovation Management. These awards were initiated in 2014 to celebrate excellence in research and innovation management in Southern Africa, and to encourage growth and achievement in the field. The 2021 award considers excellence and achievements in the previous year, 2020.
Anita Nel, Chief Director Innovation and Business Development, says she is incredibly proud of the team for this exceptional achievement. "Working in this creative space with the best team in the world is a dream come true. I cannot ask for a better team."
The Innovus TTO is managed by Dr Madelein Kleyn, Director Technology Transfer. The team manages the intellectual property (IP) portfolio of SU and is responsible for commercialising innovation emanating from the university through research efforts by licensing and/or creating spin-out companies. Innovus also supports the University's Research Development Office with research agreements containing commercialisation clauses.
Nel said that despite not having a single person in the office for more than nine months in 2020, Innovus TTO established no less than five new technology spin-out companies and raised funding from various funders for seven companies in their group. The TTO was the initiator and driver behind the University Technology Fund (bigger than R200 million), established on 31 January 2020 and is the first local fund focusing only on investing in any South African university's technology. Innovus TTO concluded fourteen licenses during 2020, and, as usual, five team members (Anita Nel, Madelein Kleyn, Nolene Singh, Camile de Villiers and Thandi Maretlane) presented papers or posters at SARIMA, sharing their expertise on technology transfer and innovation commercialisation with the broader community.
"Over the past decade, SU has produced more Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications than any other public or private local entity. Innovus TTO has also set up the SU LaunchLab business incubator to provide further support to the SU Group of Companies (29 companies)" says Nel.
The Innovus TTO team is the only TTO in the African Continent that prides itself with five Internationally recognised registered Technology Transfer Professionals (RTTP): Anita Nel, Madelein Kleyn, Nolene Singh, Joubert de Wet and Doris Peters.
Nel serves on the RTTP review panel, a sub-committee of the global Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP) - an alliance of the major international knowledge and technology transfer associations, including SARIMA. Nel often presents papers on university start-ups at conferences and webinars.
In 2020 and 2021, Dr Kleyn received a Service Recognition and Leadership Award from the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) for her valuable contribution to the licensing profession. She is also the chairperson of the LESI Patent and Technology Licensing Committee and Vice-Chair of their Awards Committee. Furthermore, she was re-elected as IAM Strategy 300 (the world's leading IP strategist), having been elected for this recognition since 2016 and has been appointed Vice-President for LESI for 2022/3.