SKIES Training and Mentorship Programme South Africa

 SKIES Training and Mentorship Programme South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa, 4-8 April 2022

Instructors:  Lucia Marchetti (UCT), Kechil Kirkham (IDIA/SARAO, SKA), Mark Johnson (SARAO) , Michelle Willebrands (University of Leiden), Katty Hsu (ECE) 

with the participation of SARAO, UCT d-school, UCT Research Contracts and Innovation Office and UWC Technology Transfer Office

Welcome to the new SKIES Training and Mentorship Programme! On this page, you can register for this programme, aimed at providing you with the best hard and soft skills for your career as a physics/astronomy PhD** or young researcher (e.g. post-doc)..

The programme starts with a week of training sessions at the UCT Graduate School of Business Conference Centre in Cape Town between the 4th and the 8th of April 2022. This will be followed by the assignment of mentors, who can help coach you through your career options into the future.

The SKIES training will take you through the basics of open science, design thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship in a week intensive course. There will be a focus on transferable skills and career development, and you will have the opportunity to talk with entrepreneurs working in various fields.

This programme has been developed with expertise support from Erasmus Centre for EntrepreneurshipdotSPACE FoundationSARAOUCT d-schoolUCT Research Contracts and Innovation OfficeUWC Technology Transfer Office and UWC eResearch Office

Register now, places are limited!

The course is free of charge, including lunch and a social dinner, but travel and accommodation are not included. There are a maximum of 40 places on this training workshop (we can accommodate a maximum of 30 in-person attendees and the rest will be on-line). We recommend in-person attendance, so register now to secure your place!

Each participant will get a certificate of attendance at the end of the programme.

NOTE: in-person participants will need to comply with the UCT COVID-19 regulations that will be in place at the time of the workshop, which might include proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the premises. These regulations are still under development and we will update you as soon as we have more clarity closer to the date.

Registration closes on March 25th!

The brand new UCT-GSB Conference Centre in Cape Town (image: UCT-GSB)

Training Event Programme

Days start at 09:00. Half-days end at 13:00, full days end at 17:00. Lunch will be available everyday. 

The SKIES training workshop will be an opportunity for you to think outside the box. It is designed to be interactive. It will include both lectures on specific topics and practical and engaging exercises.

Day 1 (full day): 

  • Self-awareness: what are your skills, how do you relate to the world?
  • Open Science: what is it, and what are the differences between open science in the context of academia and private industry?
  • Best practices in communicating your knowledge
  • Design Thinking workshop, let’s be creative!

Day 2: (half day with option to stay on to work on exercises)

  • Entrepreneurship: what is an entrepreneur? How can you be one (if you aren’t already)?
  • Innovation: what does it mean in the context of you and your career?
  • How do you create or evaluate a business idea?
  • What are the major components of an organisation? 
  • What is a business model?
  • Homework: ideation exercise. Let’s get an idea.

Day 3: (half day with option to stay on to work on exercises)

  • Business Model Canvas: exercise to get used to trade-offs and a more detailed view of what’s under the hood

Day 4: (full day) + social event

(details will follow depending on attendance)

  • What support is available for new enterprises in the academic world and outside. How might you get funding?
  • What is social entrepreneurship and why is it relevant? 
  • External speakers to share their own experience.

Day 5: (full day)

  • Training on “how to pitch an idea”. This is important both in the academic environment and outside academia. You will receive training on how to do a pitch and will have the opportunity to exercise by doing a pitch yourself and receive feedback.

You will also get to meet people who have trodden this path before and started successful companies and social enterprises. At the end of the course you will have the opportunity to stay in touch with mentors who could advise you on career development.

A more detailed program will be available closer to the date.

Conditions for participation

By registering to this programme you agree to the following conditions:

  • You are willing to commit to attend the training workshop
  • You are willing to be contacted again after the training for a follow-up
  • You will participate in an interview/survey about the SKIES Training and Mentorship Programme.

Organising committee

Lucia Marchetti (UCT), Kechil Kirkham (IDIA/SARAO, SKA), Mark Johnson (SARAO), Bonita De Swardt (SARAO), Mattia Vaccari (UWC)

If you have any questions please contact Lucia Marchetti:

Registration closes on March 25th!

**This programme prioritises PhD and early career post-docs, but if you are a Masters student and you would be interested in joining this training workshop, please send an email to and we will keep you posted if there will be any available spaces closer to the date.

Remco Timmermans

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