Connecting people and places for sustainable development

Car wing mirror

Access to safe, reliable and affordable transport is an important part of sustainable development. Transport connects rural and urban places and gives people access to decent work and essential services. Despite this, only half of the world's population has convenient access to public transport.

Professor Mpofu is a national research chair. His new technology business incubator is delivering transport manufacturing solutions, to increase social and economic mobility in South Africa. Incubators act as support services for early-stage businesses, giving young companies the networks and resources they sometimes find difficult to access. In this case it is helping researchers and budding entrepreneurs to set up micro-enterprises to supply the transport manufacturing sector.

Several micro-enterprises have been supported through the incubator, including one that has delivered £10,000 sales supplying production-jigs to a railcar manufacturer. Five patents have been registered and three prototypes are being tested to support a sustainable transport manufacturing sector.

Postgraduates from South Africa and the continent have been equipped to solve manufacturing challenges. Senior career pathways have been facilitated to support the next generation of 'techno-preneurs'.

Professor Mpofu now wants to take this work to the Southern African Development Community region's informal settlements, to understand their transport challenges and support micro-enterprises that meet their needs. Collaborations with the UK and African countries have led to new funding proposals to deliver accessible and inclusive transport solutions and create economic opportunities for local communities.

Through well-grounded manufacturing research and business incubation, we are developing new and innovative ways to support youth techno-preneurs.

Professor Khumbulani Mpofu, Tshwane University of Technology

Bending press commercialisation for manufacturing sustainability

Project leads: Professor Khumbulani Mpofu, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Delivery partners: Royal Academy of Engineering, UK and the Technology Innovation Agency, South Africa