Prestigious technology award for SU director

Anita Nel

Anita Nel, who is responsible for innovation, business development, commercialisation and Stellenbosch University’s (SU) industry interaction platform, Innovus, was recently promoted to chief director: Innovation and Business Development at the institution.

Says Ms Nel: “It is a wonderful privilege to be recognised in this way, and I am thankful for the opportunity. I look forward to the new challenges and professional development that the position will afford me.”

Her role has grown significantly over the past few years and, in 2017, Commercial Services (now called SunCom) also joined the Innovus stable as part of a strategy to consolidate the university’s fifth income stream in one unit.

This in line with the university’s new vision – to be Africa’s leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where knowledge in service of society, is advanced.

“I am part of a fantastic team at Innovus and SunCom who are passionate about excellence, enjoying their jobs and who are thriving on new challenges,” she says.

“We have established a number of really great initiatives recently, including the LaunchLab business incubator. We will soon roll out various new and exciting ventures that will augment SU’s status as a thriving and entrepreneurial university – in fact the most innovative place in Africa,” she adds.

Professor Stan du Plessis, SU Chief Operating Officer, says Ms Nel has a fantastic track record as the head of SU’s technology transfer team. “She is playing a significant role in increasing SU’s impact on society through the scientific output of a research intensive university. At the same time, she and her team have been building an entrepreneurial culture within SU, not just in our commercial activities, but also in collaboration with out academics,” he says.

Out of SU’s five chief directors, three are female – the others being Ilhaam Groenewald (Sport) and Nicolette van den Eijkel (Facilities Management).

The Dutch-based non-profit organisation, Inspiring Fifty, showcasing inspiring female role models in the technology industry in the Netherlands, France, Europe, the Nordic and in South Africa – named Ms Nel one of the 2018 #InspiringFiftySA winners.

The announcement was made by the Netherlands Consul General, Bonnie Horbach, last week.

The awards recognises South African women at the forefront of some of the biggest impacts in the science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) sector.

Co-recipients with Ms Nel with SU ties are Anri van der Spuy, manager at Africa Digital Policy Project (journalism), and Laura Ilunga, helicopter and airplane pilot at Starlite Aviation Operations and Crew Resources International (military science).

In announcing the names of the recipients, Ms Horbach said: “The judges had a hard time selecting the final 50 based on the high calibre of the nominees. These groundbreaking women will not only be recognised in South Africa, but will form part of a global network of women.”