Student fellowship to ‘create wealth’

2015-11-04 06:00

THE password for South Africa’s technological future is support - and a local businessman will pay approximately R1 million to cultivate this way of thinking among the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Alan Knott-Craig, an alumnus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and founder of several technology companies, has undertaken to over the next 10 years help students from this university realize their business dreams.

Master’s and doctoral students in computer science and information technology will from 2016 be able to apply for a fellowship of R100 000, with which they can start their own businesses.

With such support Knott-Craig aims to establish a network of entrepreneurs. “People who can create their own wealth, will re-invest in the ecosystem where they started,” Knott-Craig explained.

“This is the principle on which Silicon Valley, America’s technological centre, is based. If we want to bring the same movement to South Africa, we should follow their example.”

The fellowship, however, which will be paid by the non-profit organization Happimo NPC, will specifically help postgraduate students. “It is important to complete postgraduate studies, especially in computers and technology. In this industry there are many things you cannot learn in your job.

“We would also rather cultivate self-reliant entrepreneurs as employers, because new businesses create jobs and boost the economy.”

NMMU was his first choice for the fellowship, Knott-Craig said.

“NMMU has a diverse group of postgraduate students. The future of Africa’s technological entrepreneurship...needs women and other racial groups. NMMU can deliver these leaders.”

Prof. Jean Greyling, Head of Department of NMMU Computing Sciences, welcomed Knott-Craig’s support and confidence.

“The fellowship will encourage students to consider postgraduate studies, and our country’s economy needs more master’s and doctoral students.”

The first applications will be collected by the various departments early next year. The first recipients will be announced in April 2016.

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