InnovUS e-news 2nd edition

Thursday, 1 October 2009

A successful year for InnovUS

It's been a busy, but extremely fruitful year for InnovUS, the technology transfer company of Stellenbosch University. Despite the negative impact of the global economic crisis on commercialisation, Anita Nel, Chief executive officer, says that 2009 has been a great year for innovation, entrepreneurial activity as well as financial and company success.

"In terms of the year under review, the highlight was undoubtedly the restructuring of the company into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University," says Anita. "We also moved our premises to 15 De Beer Street, Stellenbosch in a strategic effort to be in close proximity to our academic clients."

Entrepreneurial activity at the University saw the establishment of Niocad (Pty) Ltd, a company that develops software for circuit design. InnovUS is also finalising negotiations with Catchword, a company specialising in speech technologies, bringing the total number of spin-out companies to eight.

Regarding innovation, Anita says that the University has excelled by exceeding its 2007 record of 43 invention disclosures in August already. And that isn't the only record broken because:

  • InnovUS will financially exceed its licence income target for 2009;
  • Another record year for registering approved short courses is expected, and
  • A record number of applications have been received for the National Innovation Competition for student technology-related business plans.

The year has also seen an increase in marketing activities. "Technology transfer requires an intensive marketing effort and we are thus following a structured marketing plan," says Anita. "This includes the launch of our e-newsletter, a two-page article in Matieland and starting the ball rolling on our website makeover which is due for completion before the end of September 2009. We will also be hosting a Spring Workshop series next month to celebrate our tenth anniversary."

Other developments during the year included InnovUS's role in setting up and hosting Tektique, an inter-university Technology Transfer Office (TTO) initiative, and the finalisation around the new IPR from the Publicly Financed Research Act. The latter has a significant impact on intellectual property (IP) developed at state-funded research institutions.

"Progressing into 2010 will bring a number of new and exciting challenges," says Anita. "We are particularly looking forward to the approval of the revised IP Commercialisation Policy, improving the short courses environment, finding funding for prospective spin-out companies and projects and increasing our number of licences."

Happy 10th birthday, InnovUS

It's been ten successful years since InnovUS has first opened its doors. To celebrate, we've treated ourselves to a little cosmetic enhancement – a facelift of sorts in moving with the times. Without further ado, we are very proud to unveil our brand-new website! Click here to sneak a peek at our new look.

Introducing our new Board of Directors

In our last e-newsletter we mentioned our restructuring into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University ten years after the original Office for Intellectual Property opened its doors. InnovUS Tegnologie Oordrag (Pty) Ltd. replaces Unistel Group Holdings (Pty) Ltd and as such we now have a brand new empowered Board of Directors. We'd like to take this opportunity to introduce our new directors:

  • Chairperson: Mr Desmond Smith
  • Directors
          Mr Nandu Bhula
          Prof Wynand Coetzer
          Mr Jannie Durand
          Mr Joe Kieser
          Mr Michiel le Roux
          Ms Anita Nel
          Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen
          Prof Arnold van Zyl
  • Company secretary: Ms Faiza Majiet

Resident IP attorneys now on board

On 19 August Von Seidels Intellectual Property Attorneys joined the InnovUS stable as resident Intellectual Property (IP) attorneys. With many years of IP rights experience, knowledge and technical expertise, they are considered to be one of South Africa's leading specialist IP attorney firms and we are very excited to have them on board!

As researchers and inventors using InnovUS's IP services, you are now able to arrange consultations with Von Seidels to obtain expert advice on a range of IP-related matters including:

  • General patenting, copyright and trademarks;
  • IP protection services including the filing of patents, trademarks, registered designs, copyrights and plant breeder's rights;
  • IP rights enforcement;
  • Licences and technology transfer;
  • IP portfolio management, and
  • Advice about specific technical fields such as chemical engineering / materials, electronic engineering, biotechnology and microbiology

Consultations take place every Wednesday from 9:00 to 16:00 at the InnovUS offices, 15 De Beer Street, Stellenbosch University. You can make your appointment online via the InnovUS website, by e-mailing patent@sun.ac.za or by contacting Venessa Williams on 021 808 3826.

Copyright: New regulations for third party content reproduction

From 1 July 2009 a new set of regulations regarding the reproduction of course material containing third party content came into effect. You are advised to take note of the amendments to the Blanket Licence Agreement (BLA) with the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO). The following applies:

  • The use of all third party content in course material must be reported. This includes course packs, material placed on Webstudies, single item handouts in class and material placed in the library's short-loan section.
  • Copying of material for extra-curricular courses is covered by SU's blanket licence.
  • If the extent of copying exceeds the permissible percentage (10%), application should be made in the usual manner for a transactional licence. Transactional licence fees are not included in the blanket licence fee and payment of such fees must be budgeted for by the department requesting such a licence.
  • The reproduction of course packs assembled under the control of SU for purposes of education, research and community interaction is authorised under the blanket licence for direct reprographic reproduction (photocopying) of material on or off SU's campuses by pre-approved SU suppliers.
  • Digital enhancement of course material by any entity is not included in this licence, and such actions must be cleared on a case-by-case basis.
  • Teaching staff and/or departments that do not have their course material reproduced on SU campuses must use pre-approved SU suppliers. The lecturers and/or departments are responsible for their own copyright reporting using the CHEC reporting system. Copies of the copyright permission forms must be sent to the Copyright Officer.
  • All material reproduced under the BLA must carry the following notice:
    This material has been copied under licence and is not for sale.
    Reproduced by *………………………………………………………………………………………..
    *For instance: Department of Economics/Faculty of Law/SUN MeDIA.

Ms Carol Kat, SU's Copyright Officer, is responsible for overseeing any copyright reporting and will assist you with the copyright request process and interpretation of the blanket licence guidelines. Contact her on 021 808 2992 or carolk@sun.ac.za.

InnovUS to host workshops as part of 10-year birthday celebrations

Researchers, inventors and students from Stellenbosch University are invited to our Spring Workshop series as part of our 10-year birthday celebrations. The workshops, to take place from 26 - 28 October, will explore various topics relating to intellectual property and its commercialisation. As with any respectable birthday party, we will also be serving birthday cake. Join in celebrating with us!

The theme of the workshop series is "Going for Gold". It will explore various topics related to intellectual property and its commercialisation, the impact of the recently promulgated IPR Act on government-funded higher education and research institutions, various options available to protect your intellectual property, and the role of InnovUS at Stellenbosch University.

The programme for the three days is guaranteed not to disappoint and will include presentations from:

  • Ms Anita Nel, Chief executive officer: InnovUS - Going for Gold;
  • Mr Rowan Joseph, Partner: Von Seidels Intellectual Property Attorneys – Demystifying Intellectual Property;
  • Mr Roux de Villiers, Attorney: Werksmans Incorporating Jan S. de Villiers – Getting your Act together (fundamentals of the IPR legislation);
  • Dr David Weber from Stone Three Venture Technology – Challenges of converting research output into a commercial product;
  • Ms Alexandra Fraser, Research Analyst: InVenFin – I need money! – Financing an  IP- based start up, and
  • Mr. Thys Cronje, MD: Diacoustic Medical Devices and Dr. Pieter Fourie, Advisor: Diacoustic Medical Devices – A Case Study of a University IP Start Up: Diacoustic Medical Devices (DMD).

Do not miss out on this superb opportunity to learn from experts in the field! Attendance is free of charge. Registration is from 14:00 – 14:30 each day (26 - 28 October). For more information, and to obtain the full programme, contact Venessa Williams on  021 808 3826 or e-mail venessa@sun.ac.za.

Short courses: Change in certification process

If you are involved in the Short Courses certification process, please be advised of the strict new guidelines for the issuing and printing of certificates. The guidelines form part of the University's quality assurance process, and aim to ensure the security of the certification process.

The following guidelines are effective immediately:

  • Certificates may not be printed by an individual or department. They may only be printed by SunPrint, the University's printing division (for Stellenbosch, Bellville Park and Tygerberg campuses).
  • Short courses are certified by the University by means of certificates of competence or certificates of attendance. The University's crest may only appear on official degree or diploma certificates, not on short-course certificates.
  • Short-course certificates may only be issued for short courses registered and approved on the University's central registration system. This system is hosted on the University's staff portal.

For a complete list of the compulsory information that must appear on short-course certificates, as well as the correct procedures to follow, please visit the Short Courses website.

For further information or queries, please contact Ms Carol Kat on 021 808 2992 or e-mail carolk@sun.ac.za.

Thumbs up for SU team at SA Bio Plan competition

The LifeQ team from Stellenbosch University has been awarded an impressive second place at the 2009 SA Bio Plan competition. The team, headed by PhD students Riaan Conradie and Franco du Preez from the Department of Biochemistry, impressed judges with a business plan submission for a medical breathing device to measure body fat percentage, resting metabolic rate and respiratory quotient.

The competition is a Biotechnology Executive Education Programme and Business Plan Competition (BPC) for aspiring bio-entrepreneurs and seeks to encourage the development of biotechnology businesses in South Africa.  It was hosted by The Innovation Fund (IF) in collaboration with the Biotechnology Regional Innovation Centres (BRICs) and in partnership with Emory University of Atlanta, Georgia USA.

In March this year several teams from all over South Africa, including the LifeQ team, handed in a one-page business opportunity to the Innovation Fund. LifeQ was then chosen as one of eight teams to attend a week-long Biotechnology Executive Education Programme presented by academics from the Goizueta Business School of Emory University.

There they received world-class accredited training in business and had the opportunity to present their business plans before a panel of international judges. During the training, all teams worked closely with their assigned mentors to write an extensive business plan.

The plan was presented at the Bio2Biz conference at the ICC in Durban in September. At the gala dinner held on 22 September, LifeQ was named runners up in the 2009 SA Bio Plan competition. They received a R50 000 cash prize as well as an opportunity of internship in the USA.

The LifeQ team is currently in the process of building a commercial prototype of their device. They then intend to release it in, among others, the USA, a country where 70 million of the 300 million individuals are on diet each year without success.

As the technology transfer company of Stellenbosch University, InnovUS proudly supported the team throughout the process and congratulates them on their achievement!