National, News

UNDP, University of Juba partner to spur innovation

By Charles K Mark

The University of Juba and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a $1. 2 million, first Innovation Pod (UNIPO).

If well executed, the innovative space is expected to support the institution and its students in creating ideas that will raise their standings to those of leading worldwide innovators.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba, Professor John Akech said the move is targeted at inventing the future and transforming lives.

“This project was to enhance innovation and accelerate learning for students and talented youth. The UNIPOD is a realization of our mission of economic empowerment,” Prof. Akech said.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Deputy Country Resident Representative, Titus Osundina, praised the University as being among the four institutions to establish innovative pods worldwide.

“Among the thirteen UNIPODS that have been established by the UNDP African regional bureau in Africa, we are extremely proud that the University of Juba is the first to officially launch and also the first, prior to the launching, to kick start operations with personnel and a structure for innovation to try within a university community,” exclaimed Mr. Osundina.

He said the UNIPOD is a unique innovation space that can be used to create innovations and new ideas and provide solutions to issues in society.

“This innovation pod is unique and open to all who want to do research,” he said.

National minister of higher education, Gabriel Changson Chang noted the government aspires to transform national universities into world-class institutions.

“We have a provision in our agreement, the R-ARCSS, to develop and establish a student support fund. That is a provision in the agreement that we are implementing and have already initiated the process,” Minister Changson noted.

He said a bill is on its way to the assembly to be enacted to make sure that at least 5 percent of the national budget is allocated to the higher institutions of learning.

The minister observed that the five per cent, amounts to 105 billion South Sudanese pounds (SSP), which equates to 105 million US dollars.

“If you are to get that money, then we will tell you that in these innovative programmes, we are carrying it up in a big way,” he explained.

The minister assures that the funds are note realized immediately; it will be raised in a supplementary budget.

“If we don’t get it now, we make sure that when the supplementary budget is done within 4-5 months, it must be included there,’ he said.

The African University Innovation Pod, an initiative supported by the UNDP, is characterized as a unique initiative pod located in a top technical public university with the objective of supporting youth innovation.

Through the initiative, UNDP is supporting more than six countries, including Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Gabon, Rwanda, Guinea, and Togo.

In November last year, The United Nations Development Programme signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Juba to develop a University Innovation Pod (UNIPOD), a project idea that came into reality.



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