The Wits Entrepreneurial Research Challenge aims to grow entrepreneurship skills among staff at the university.

A new course that aims to teach entrepreneurship skills has been made freely available to employees of Wits University. Known as the Wits Entrepreneurial Research Challenge (WERC), the course is expected to run from Tuesday, 31 August until the middle of November this year.

“The course aims to develop entrepreneurial capabilities and help academic and support staff to be more successful in innovation, research, teaching, and engagement in practice, as well as in the commercialisation of academic knowledge,” said Prof Boris Urban who developed the course for Wits Enterprise.

Wits Enterprise is in involved in a number of areas of the university’s marketing and development including course conceptualisation, research support and growth and commercialisation of innovation.

The new entrepreneurship course is designed to ensure participants gain entrepreneurship skills when approaching research projects. The course consists of eight modules that emphasise the importance of having an entrepreneurial approach and aims to generate higher levels of pro-activeness as well as improving networking skills to better gather resources for research tasks.

The course is accredited as an NQF (National Qualifications Framework) level 7 course which is the equivalent level of of a bachelor’s degree, advanced diplomas and postgraduate certificates. Due to the impact of covid-19, this course will be delivered via online learning platforms using a combination of online lectures, class discussions, presentations by students and self-study sections, according to Urban.

“As [it is] a digital learning course, a multi-modal approach has been formulated to learning so that the learner can fit [learning] into their week when it suits them. Synchronous online lectures are limited to one-hour sessions using a suitable virtual meeting technology,” said Urban.

Nodeine Sheik, an admissions officer, expressed her interest in an entrepreneurship course, telling Wits Vuvuzela: “If we look at ourselves as individual entrepreneurs and what we have to offer, it [the WERC course] will make a huge difference in the workplace. If a course like this could teach us to see ourselves as innovators, then why not?”

The start date of the course has been delayed to August 31 due to the lack of uptake. Melissa Moodley, short course business development manager at Wits Enterprise, said, “We understand staff are under tremendous pressure during the second half of the year, it is even more challenging with the pandemic as an added factor. We have postponed the start to Monday 31 August 2020.”

Sebastian Spruit, an academic trainee in the school of accountancy said, “I don’t think I would be interested in the course, I am not really the entrepreneur type and I am currently busy with a master’s degree.”

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wits Entrepreneurial Research Challenge course aims to improve entrepreneurial skills in research projects. Photo: Dylan Bettencourt.