THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) held its second Science and Technology Innovation Expo at Pioneer Mall on Thursday which was meant to showcase the institution’s various scientific projects and innovations.
According to NUL’s Chemistry Head of Department, Dr Mosotho George, the expo initially showcased products and services from science-based faculties but had since expanded to include other faculties such as Law and Social Sciences.
He said the expo was meant to equip the students with entrepreneurship skills so their budding enterprises can flourish beyond the university.
Over 170 products including food, textiles, crafts, cosmetics and clinical services were showcased by NUL students and independent traders during the expo.
Dr George said the expo had enabled many students to form strategic partnerships with established entrepreneurs and afforded them the exposure they needed to foray into their various industries.
“Most of the products on display were manufactured by our own students with the aim of applying the skills they learnt in the classroom,” he said.
“Through the expo, the university has shown how science can promote innovation and technology. The students learnt the skills to produce the various products on display through our curriculum.
“Our aim is to partner with any company or entity with the intention of investing in the products we produce. We want to put the products on the market by getting assistance from investors or partners.”
Dr George also said the project had benefited some students who managed to register their companies following the launch of the initiative.
“We are continuing to record success stories of students who are now finding their feet in business and registered their own companies upon graduating,” he said.
“For instance, a company called Reed Basketry (Pty) Ltd was formed by a former science student who has made remarkable products from reeds. A venture for processing dairy products such as yoghurt received M700 000 from Metropolitan Lesotho to take it to the market.
“We also have a renowned handcrafter by the name of Tumane Thabane who approached us last year looking for a partnership. That partnership enabled us to send some of our students to his organisation for an internship programme.”
The expo, he said, was also meant to foster the development of other up-and-coming businesses.
“We have partnered with some of the independent traders exhibiting their wares to help their businesses to grow. Some have come for advice on how to improve their products,” Dr George said.
“One of the entrepreneurs we invited is the Khubetsoana-based car manufacturer. We are already working towards improving that vehicle. I envision developing a dashboard which is unique to the car.”
An attendee at the expo, Mathe Mathe, lauded the initiative, saying some of the products could compete in the local market.
“I was mostly impressed by the detergents which I feel should find their way into the market. The soaps are very similar to those that I see in supermarket shelves,” she said.
“I think they should start looking for investors from beyond Lesotho who could help them take their products to large markets. They should also consider marketing their products at international exhibitions.”