The College of Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, has launched an Innovation Centre to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and research excellence among students and staff.
In his opening remarks, Professor Jerry John Kponyo, the Project Lead of the KNUST Engineering Education Project (KEEP), emphasised the significance of Centres of Excellence in providing essential resources to support quality education in African universities. He traced the roots of the newly inaugurated Centre back to the foresight of the then Provost, Professor Samuel Innocent Kofi Ampadu, who recognised the need for engineering education and innovation. He added that Professor Ampadu initiated the establishment of the College’s Innovation Centre, and later passed it on to the immediate past Provost of the College, Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah, who contributed funds and space to make the vision a reality. Professor Kponyo also highlighted the pivotal role played by the Current Provost, Professor Kwabena Biritwum Nyarko in allocating six (6) rooms for the Innovation Centre, to contribute to innovation.
According to Professor Kponyo, the establishment of the Innovation Centre aligns with the University’s Strategic Plan 2025 and the Vice-Chancellor’s vision, which aims to produce innovators, entrepreneurs, and job creators. He expressed optimism that the Centre would play a crucial role in shaping students into industry-ready graduates and encouraged young innovators not to be discouraged by failures. He further acknowledged the Provost, the advisory board of KEEP, the Vice-Chancellor and the entire Management of the University for supporting the initiative.
On his part, the Provost of the College, Professor Kwabena Biritwum Nyarko, highlighted the significance of the Centre as a milestone in the College’s journey to advance knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship. He stated that KNUST continues to play an exceptional role in nurturing top engineers for Ghana and the world at large. He noted that the multifaceted approach of the engineering curriculum is designed to enable students to thrive in the dynamic world of work and equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
Professor Biritwum disclosed that the Centre has evolved over the years from an innovation club to a platform for students and the community to cultivate entrepreneurial skills. He appreciated the Chairman of the College’s Alumni Association, Oheneba Yaw Sarpong Siriboe from the Juaben Oil Mills for his support towards the development of sustainable startups. He also acknowledged his predecessors, Professor Samuel Innocent Kofi Ampadu, and Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah and their respective management teams who laid a robust foundation leading to the establishment of the Centre. He thanked the Management of KEEP for their continuous financial and logistical support toward the establishment of the Innovation Centre and called on the Alumni of the College, stakeholders, institutions, and other centres of excellence to support the vision of constructing a four-storey building for laboratories and training rooms. He used the opportunity to also launch the first-ever “Innovation Week,” slated from 23rd to 26th January 2024, to celebrate innovative thinking among students. He added that the week-long event will feature seminars, robotics exhibitions, aerial drone exhibitions, and project presentations.
The Akyempimhene of the Juaben Traditional Area and Keynote Speaker of the event, Oheneba Yaw Sarpong Siriboe, advocated for the establishment of more centres of excellence to equip students with the requisite skills in the evolving industrial space. He expressed his excitement for the Centre's potential to support students/staff and promote research output commercialisation to optimise industrial operations and efficiency.
He called for collaboration between the Innovation Centre and his organisation, the Siriboe Institute of Agribusiness and Skills Development to synergise in producing industry-ready students. He encouraged young innovators to leverage on the opportunity provided to contribute to the creation of innovative products and services and hoped the Centre would become a centre of transformation for the students of KNUST and the nation at large.
The launch also saw the induction of the cohort members of seven (7) startups at the Transport Research and Education Centre Kumasi (TRECK) by Professor Yaw Adubofour Tuffour. He mentioned that each of the cohorts are developing various forms of apps to help in mobility services within the country.
A tour of the Innovation Centre, showcasing its state-of-the-art equipment, including large 3D printers and an incubator, among others was led by the Innovation Manager, Mr. Makafui Bedzra.