Partnership between business and academia to boost KZN economy

A partnership that will enable the exchange of knowledge, skills and resources to capacitate business forms part of a memorandum of understanding between Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

TIKZN is the official investment and trade promotion agency of the KZN provincial government.

“Academic institutions are an important stakeholder for us and UKZN is certainly no exception. We seek to enhance and grow our long-standing relationship with UKZN to enhance our research capabilities and support each other in the development of packaged opportunities for investors and traders,” said Neville Matjie, TIKZN acting Chief Executive.

“We have an existing relationship with the UKZN Graduate Business School where we are utilising master’s students and advising them on research topics. With this faculty, we’ll be looking at partner research between the university and TIKZN. Furthermore, we’ll be exchanging our experiences to see how staff collaboration can be enhanced.”

He said a review of the trade and investment strategy for KZN is currently being done in partnership with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, under which TIKZN falls, where UKZN is providing academic support.

UKZN is recognised as one of South Africa’s top research-focused universities. The publicly-funded academic institution is rated amongst the top 500 universities in the world and is the second most productive university in South Africa in terms of research output.

“Two elements which characterise the partnership with TIKZN are research, which is core to the university, and teaching and learning. We pride ourselves in being a research led institution and producing cutting-edge research that is relevant to the needs of the economy,” said Professor Harrold Ngalawa of UKZN.

He said the university had a post-doctoral programme in place which brought in new PHD graduates from around the world to carry out research. Seed funding provided the necessary financial support for early career academics to kick-start their research projects and attend conferences.

“As an alumnus of UKZN I follow developments of the university with great pride. The partnership takes us a step closer to UKZN as we say ‘we are your knowledge partner in business’. UKZN has the research capacity, scope and breadth of various disciplines to help tap into business,” said Catherine Cronje, TIKZN Board Chairperson.

She said there was great demand for universities to conduct research which would add value to businesses and ultimately benefit the people of KZN.

“We currently host 11 graduates as interns and would like to see the numbers increase in the future. Access to the research of UKZN students will enhance our knowledge and understanding of various subject matters that are core to the nature of our business,” said Sakhile Mpungose, TIKZN board member.

Through the partnership with UKZN, TIKZN is committed to capacitating young graduates to help them gain practical exposure and increase their chances of finding suitable employment.

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