Nust commercialises mask, sanitiserd production

THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has resolved to commercialise its sanitiser and mask production, among other projects, as a way of generating income for infrastructural development at campus.

BY PATRICIA SIBANDA

This was revealed on Friday when Finance minister Mthuli Ncube toured the institution.

Nust pro-vice-chancellor Peter Nkala said the institution has been engaging companies interested in seeing the university develop its infrastructure.

“We have been seized with negotiations. We are negotiating for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and memorandums of association (MoAs) and non-disclosure signing up agreements with a number of organisations that are interested in ensuring that there is some activity in terms of infrastructure development at Nust through private and public partnerships among other arrangements,” Nkala said.

He said the institution had also embarked on making use of the innovation hubs to produce anti-COVID-19 products.

“Coming to COVID-19 interventions that we have done under the innovation hubs, minister, they are co-ordinated under the innovation hubs in the institution, which is the first hub and we are now making arrangements to undertake the construction of the second phase hub, hence details can be availed to your office as and when necessary,” Nkala said.

“So with COVID-19, we have issues that we have come through with the first one being the testing, our AGTC [Applied Genetic Testing Centre] lab is actively involved in the testing of COVID-19 in Bulawayo, right now they are at Mpilo (Central Hospital), working from there.”

He said the institution was also involved in the production of anti-COVID-19 equipment to assist in the fight against the pandemic.

“We are also involved in the production of personal protective equipment. At the moment, we have produced masks, under an arrangement involving 10 small-to-medium enterprises from around Bulawayo which were subcontracted to make masks and at the moment, about 40 000 masks have been produced,” Nkala said.
“We are also into sanitisers production through the chemical engineering and applied chemistry departments. Our capacity so far has been about 5 000 litres a week, but we are trying to upscale that to reach a capacity of 20 000 litres a week.”

He said all those activities presented themselves during the COVID-19 crisis, hence they had seen opportunities in them.

Ncube said he was pleased with the institution’s innovations.

“I am pleased with what I have seen here and that knowledge research that is being tested can be used in goods and services. I am pleased that you have stepped up to the plate when it comes to the fight against COVID-19 and evidence is here for everyone to see, that is the sanitiser production,” Ncube said.

“I am also happy with how you have tried to integrate community innovation in the way you approach innovation, that innovation which is not from within the university, but it’s also happening out there and then you bring these individuals here from the community who are innovative to improve the quality of their designs and products,” he said.

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