This study addresses two major questions of great salience in science, technology and innovation studies. What are the promoters of innovativeness in academia? Are patenting of inventions and research performance in conflict in academia or do they rather co-evolve and/or reinforce each other? Patents applications to the South African Patent Office from 1996 to 2006 are used as indicators of inventive capacity of South African universities for that period. The investigation determines, for the first time, patenting activities of local universities at the South African Patent Office and identifies the performance of faculties and departments. The assertion that previous industry working experience can affect the inventiveness of academic researchers is then investigated. No other study has investigated this issue in South Africa. The study finds that most inventors or co-inventors worked in industries before universities employed them. The study contends that employing scientists or engineers who previously worked in industry is an effective mechanism through which universities could absorb scientific and technical skills that could inform researchers on how to design patentable inventions and thus promote their inventive capacity. It is argued that this mechanism is equally valid in developed and developing countries (like South Africa) and those universities internationally wishing to improve their entrepreneurial character should aim to employ academics with previous industry work experience. The study also investigates whether patenting impedes the research performance (publication outputs, teaching, development of disciplines, etc.) of universities’ professors using the Poisson regression model. The confounding effects of other variables deemed to affect the publication productivity, such as research/faculty orientation, collaboration, etc. are taken into account. The results show that professors who are inventive: (i) outperform academically (NRF-rating) and publish more than those who do not invent at all; (ii) inventiveness and academic performance can co-exist peacefully and reinforce each other. The study finally investigates whether or not concurrent production of scientific articles and patenting of technical inventions can support each other. In an analysis of 70 patents obtained from the USPTO (United States Patent and Trade Marks Office), EPO (European Patent Office), and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) that were invented or co-invented by scientists employed in South African universities from 1994 to 2006, 58 patents (82% plus) overlapped, i.e. formed pairs with scientific articles. Authors tended to patent and publish at the same time and the same intellectual work informed both products. Extended case studies of backward and forward citation patterns of pairs pertaining to the classes of polymers (chemistry and related sciences), optoelectronics (signal processing), biotechnology and related sciences and mineral processing (separation technology) point to two important conclusions. Some technical knowledge can also flow into the public science domain via an article. Some scientific knowledge can also flow into the patent domain via a patent.