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24 January 2020
Five 2019 Firsts From UWC: A Year Of Innovation (From Us To The World)

(Published - 24 January 2020)

The University of the Western Cape has had many amazing firsts over the years. It was the first university to be declared Africa’s Greenest Campus, or award Nelson Mandela an honorary doctorate after he left Robben Island. UWC gave South Africa its first licensed community radio station, first dentistry videoconferencing system, and first solar-powered ISP owned and run by a rural cooperative.

But the University isn’t content to rest on its laurels - we believe in continuous learning and improvement. Year after year, our students, staff and alumni continue to produce innovation that makes a difference, in a wide variety of fields.

In 2019, UWC brought South Africa several firsts, in a wide variety of fields - such as...

1: Rewiring & Augmenting Reality: Immersive technologies are transforming the way we experience the world. UWC is the first South African university to offer an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in e-Skills with Immersive Technologies Stream, which incorporates Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. The objective of facilitating an immersive technology-based knowledge transfer for education, edutainment and industry partnerships is to create, share and collaborate virtual 3-dimensional learning platforms across a broad range of disciplines. The programme - run in partnership with leading immersive technology company, EON Reality - has received rave reviews from industry role-players, unleashing its first graduates at UWC’s December graduation.
2: Empowering Local Clothing Entrepreneurs: UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in collaboration with Wear South Africa (Wear SA), has launched the first design and entrepreneurship incubator store of its kind in South Africa, while boosting the ‘Buy Local’ campaign. The store will allow students to experience the day-to-day operations of retail and clothing manufacturing, providing practical entrepreneurship development skills with a focus on product, price, and promotion - and a monthly stipend to boot. The UWC/WearSA Incubator Clothing Store stocks garments from well-known local brands such as Magents, X94, DOD, Blue Collar White Collar and WEAR. The store will also be a space for student designers to work with established designers and have the opportunity to sell their garments.
3: Managing Our Most Personal Information: Biosciences and health sciences are advancing quickly, with new technologies and techniques invented every day. But many African countries simply cannot afford to manage biosamples in an appropriate manner. SANBI’s Baobab LIMS is a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for biobanking that was developed by African and European researchers as part of the Horizon2020 funding framework project, “B3Africa”. Designed for the collection, processing and storage of human biospecimens, Baobab LIMS is free and open source, and can be customised to the specific needs of any particular laboratory - and it’s already being used in 11 African countries.
4: Making Masters - Of Sport For Development: While celebrating its 10th anniversary, UWC’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Science and Development (ICESSD) launched an international Master’s Degree in Sport for Development - an international (and collaborative) first. Developed by an interdisciplinary team from UWC and VLIR University in Belgium, with inputs from South African and Southern African scholars, the MA in Sport for Development provides students with an interdisciplinary and cross cultural programme which fosters competence and develops critical skills to respond to complex global challenges, using sport as a vehicle - while supporting the United Nations Sustainable Goals’ approach to sustainable and inclusive development.
5: Becoming Water Resilient: Fittingly for Africa’s (three-time) Greenest Campus, UWC has produced game-changing water management and sustainability innovations. The launch of the Borehole Purification Plant has brought a measure of self-sufficiency to the University, with the capacity to produce up to 500 000 ?/d of drinking quality water. This amounts to 25% of the extractable capacity from our four boreholes. It means that 60% of our daily use is produced by the new plant, and fed directly into UWC’s water reticulation system, while the balance (40%) is drawn from the municipal water supply. The world-class, state-of-the-art facility is among the first of its kind at a university in South Africa. Add to that the University’s atmospheric water generator, yielding about 2 000 litres of potable (drinkable) water per day, and it’s clear UWC is truly water wise.

Know of any other UWC firsts you’d like to share? Why not let us know at