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Prof Eugene Cloete elected as chair of EDHE initiative
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 12/04/2021

Prof Eugene Cloete, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at Stellenbosch University (SU), has been selected as the Chairperson of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Community of Practice (CoP) for Entrepreneurial Universities.

The EDHE programme is a response of the Department Higher Education and Training to the high levels of unemployment in South Africa. Implemented through a partnership with Universities South Africa (USAf), this programme's aim is to support student entrepreneurship and to develop entrepreneurial academia and entrepreneurial universities.

“I feel very honoured to have been elected to chair a very important initiative in the higher education sector in which all 26 public universities in South Africa will participate. It is a significant acknowledgement of my expertise and passion for entrepreneurship," said Cloete.

He added: “Stellenbosch University is acknowledged for not only being a research intensive university, but also a leading entrepreneurial university in South Africa. Being chair will afford me the opportunity to share best practices with other universities in South Africa and also in the rest of Africa."

As Chairperson of the EDHE CoP for Entrepreneurial Universities, Cloete will play a leading role in leveraging the research and science capabilities from cooperating universities and organisations' knowledge and research ecosystems. The CoP will then connect cooperating universities and organisations' knowledge and research ecosystems with other knowledge and research ecosystems in South Africa and on the rest of the African continent.

His other priorities as per the CoP strategic plan include wealth creation, inclusive prosperity and transformed livelihoods, and building transformative capacities and environmental sustainability.

Dr Norah Clarke, director of Entrepreneurship at EDHE, said: “The EDHE team is honoured to work with a person of Prof Cloete's stature and experience, and look forward to supporting this CoP in their leading role. We look forward to this collaboration equipping universities for their changing role in the country and our world."

Cloete is known for his outstanding contribution to research and innovation in South Africa.

He has pioneered nanotechnology applications in the water industry and has demonstrated the application of nanotechnology by developing and patenting a water purification filter based on functionalised nanofibers, especially applicable in rural areas. This invention was termed one of 10 world-changing ideas by the Scientific American journal in 2010.

Among his other important water treatment technologies are Rotoscope, which is a small device to monitor biofilm or slime found in water and other wet environments, as well as a bioreactor for the treatment of wine cellar effluent. He also pioneered solar pasteurisation as a method for disinfecting harvested rainwater.

His research in the application of nanotechnology in the water industry led to nine patents.

Cloete is also the founding director of two successful water institutes at the University of Pretoria (2004) and SU (2010) respectively. He also founded a network of Water Centres of Excellence in Southern Africa on behalf of the African Union. Acknowledgement for his contribution to policy is reflected in ministerial appointments on the boards of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (2012) and the Water Research Commission (2014).

Among the awards Cloete has received over the years are a Gold Medal from the Academy of Science of South Africa, the South African Academy of Science and Arts' Havenga Prize for Biology, and a Silver Medal from the South African Society for Microbiology. He was also elected as a Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology, the International Water Association, the Water Institute of South Africa and the Royal Society of South Africa.​