New fund to help young SA innovators

3 September 2012

Young South African entrepreneurs now have access to funding and assistance through the Youth Technology Innovation Fund, which was launched by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) in Pretoria last week.

The TIA was formed in 2008 through the merging of seven Science and Technology Department entities tasked with promoting innovation in South Africa.

It uses the country’s science and technology base to develop new industries, create jobs and diversify the economy in manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology, health, mining and energy.

“We designed the Youth Technology Innovation Fund to give innovators access to funding, mentorship and business support to enhance their chances of commercial success and increase the contributions they make to technological innovation in the country,” TIA chief executive officer Simphiwe Duma said in a statement.

The fund is targeted at people between the ages of 18 and 30 who do not already receive funding from the Technology Innovation Agency.

‘Developing a sustainable pipeline of skills’

Calls for proposals from interested parties were published in December 2011 and to date, 13 projects have been selected to receive support from the fund.

TIA announced at the launch that applications for support are still open and proposals would be welcomed, particularly from people in the country’s under-resourced sectors, such as information and communication technology, health, energy and mining.

“While funding and support is not exclusively available to projects in these sectors, they are the key focus areas of the Youth Technology Innovation Fund, given the urgent need that exists within them for the development of a sustainable pipeline of skills and talent,” said general manager for special projects at TIA, Margaret Mkhosi.

Support includes 160 hours of business coaching and mentoring, South African Bureau of Standards product certification worth up to R100 000, intellectual property protection of up to R150 000, a voucher of up to R250 000 for services at TIA partners, as well as access to business incubation services through TIA partners.

Up to four people involved in supported projects also have the opportunity to qualify for an annual stipend of up to R60 000 for two years.

“Technology innovation is a prerequisite for continued success and sustainable growth and development,” Mkhosi said.

“By creating such opportunities for our countries’ future innovation leaders, the fund would be contributing to a brighter and more sustainable economic future for all South Africans.”

SAinfo reporter