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Exclusive interview with Nicola Jowell, Convenor: Masters in Inclusive Innovation, UCT Graduate School of Business, UCT

Nicola JowellNicola will address the Innovation Hub at African Utility Week on “Developing social entrepreneurial ecosystems to overcome challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in developing/emerging markets”.

Let’s start with some background on the Masters in Inclusive Innovation at the UCT Graduate School of Business and your role there?

The Master of Philosophy specialising in Inclusive Innovation (MPhil) is an interdisciplinary, research-based degree that leads to the development of sustainable solutions for challenges in Africa. Inclusive innovators who take this learning journey travel through a rigorous academic curriculum right through to practical prototyping of new business models, processes, services or products that help create a more inclusive economy and society at large.

They work together in a “living lab” environment, where expertise, life experience, passion and innovation all converge to support new possibilities and ideas. In this rich, integrative space, commercial, technological and social innovations all combine to further Africa’s future.

What kind of projects has this course brought forth?

We’ve had a range of solutions that have come out of the programme, including Lumkani, which is a social enterprise that seeks to address the challenge of shack/slum fires in urban informal settlements in South Africa and across the globe, as well as technology-enabled education solutions that increase access to educational programmes, and even a health passport for patients in the public health care sector

Any energy and water sector innovations that you are involved in?

Yes, one of our current students determining the viability of implementing Waste to Energy technology in Kenya’s cities as a sustainable solution to the garbage problem.

What kind of innovation is necessary for our energy sector today in your view?

Clearly, any innovation that allows us to achieve more power from fewer inputs is critical in the energy sector.

What will be your message at African Utility Week’s Innovation Hub?

An open mind creates limitless opportunities to address social conditions. We call this process innovation (Jerry Greenfield)

What are you most looking forward to at the Innovation Hub?

Seeing a diverse range of innovations in the water and energy sector that have the potential to create value for society at large.


Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.