UTAMU The Innovation University

If looking for an institution that turns students into innovators, then Uganda Technology and Management University is just the right place.

UTAMU is investing in research and innovation as a means to convert its students into lifelong learners who can sustain themselves. The teaching and learning system of UTAMU helps students tap into their innovative potential through various initiatives including Innovation Friday. Students start developing mobile applications as early as their first year. 

UTAMU students during at the 2015 ACIA Awards exhibition.

According to Prof. Benon Basheka, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU), the university’s mission is to develop a system that ‘nurtures scientists, technologists and innovators’ who can transform and create new knowledge in the university so as to meet its objectives.

“I had to focus on realizing the university core functions of teaching, research and community outreach to facilitate growth, profitability and sustainability,” says Prof Basheka.

His advocacy for the use of IT in delivering programmes is supporting an interactive model of teaching, where lecturers engage directly with their students to identify problems affecting the society and their solutions.

To spur innovation, Prof Basheka says, the university invests more resources to establish the best research centres. For instance, the Centre for Innovation and Business Incubation (CIBI) has initiated a Business Incubation project that offers students a platform where they hatch ideas, and the best are funded.

The centre identifies emerging innovative brains from research undertaken at the schools and admits them to the incubation facility where they go through eleven months of rigorous training. Equipped with skills from the centre, the students transform their prototypes into commercially viable products.

At the end of this training, they come out with their own registered companies and acquire intellectual property rights for their products and services. Further, they are linked to potential customers and are provided with adequate entrepreneurial skills to drive their businesses.

Students achieve this by participating in competition challenges such as the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, which is an annual competition initiated through the partnership between UTAMU and the School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas.  The Dell Social Innovation Challenge identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world’s most pressing challenges with their transformative ideas.

Prof Basheka points out such platforms as those that spur creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills among their students.

For instance, within the past year, UTAMU has conceived a number of products poised to offer solutions to the challenges facing certain sectors of Uganda’s economy. During the second graduation ceremony held on 30th September 2016, four UTAMU students, Albert Emurwon, Ariho Simplision, Joel Kalule and Amos Karugaba, launched a software that offers high performance ICT and Finance Management Solutions. Through their company Info-Code (U) Limited, the innovators designed the software to streamline trading for industrial performance, and to provide high value-added consulting services and products that assist clients to expand their business operations.

Keneth Twesigye, a third year student of Computer Science this year started a business and technology hub focusing on collaborative working environment, youth capacity building and development. He describes TechBuzz as a center that identifies organized passionate starters then extends business development services such as; virtual and physical mentorship, convenient incubation space, associate networking services, training and seminars, among other services.

Other two students from the university, Agaba Godwin Mubangizi and Joshua Asiimwe also developed a mobile application ‘Ntwalaako’ to facilitate vehicle sharing as a way of mitigating the prevalent traffic congestion within the narrow roads of Kampala city.

The car sharing concept, the innovators explained, is based on the premise that more people who stay around or close to each other can decide to use few cars to get to their destinations. The mobile application is then used as a communication platform to facilitate negotiations. 

UTAMU teaching and learning which gives it an edge among local rivals and international universities, provides their students with practical skills and industry experience while at the same time supporting its growth and sustainability.

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