New fund for young SA entrepreneurs
The department of science & technology’s Technology Innovation Agency has launched a new fund to support young local inventors and entrepreneurs. By Craig Wilson.
The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) has launched the Youth Technology Innovation Fund which is designed to create projects for the agency and foster interest in technology and innovation in the youth in SA.
The fund is a new funding instrument introduced at the end of last year when a call for proposals from interested parties was made. It’s targeted at young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who don’t already enjoy funding from other TIA structures.
Margaret Mkhosi, GM for special projects at TIA, says technological innovation is an essential precursor for sustainable growth and development. “Nowhere is the imperative for innovation more evident than in SA’s vital technology sector.”
Mkhosi says the Youth Technology Innovation Fund was created to encourage and provide financial and broader support for innovation by making it possible for SA’s young inventors, researchers and entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into “commercially viable opportunities and enterprises”.
Students, researchers from science councils or higher education institutions, school leavers and individuals are all encouraged to apply for support from the fund.
Successful applicants get access to a variety of support funding and services, including 160 hours of business coaching, intellectual property protection of up to R150 000, SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) certification to the value of R100 000, and a voucher worth up to R250 000 for TIA services.
TIA’s partnership with the SABS should be particularly beneficial for young entrepreneurs who often cannot afford to have their products protected and certified.
Furthermore, up to four individuals from supported projects will qualify for an annual stipend of R60 000 for two years.
Mkhosi says 13 projects have been selected to date but wants to encourage new applications and proposals, particularly from projects related to ICT, energy, agriculture, health, mining and “industrial biotechnology”.
“While funding and support is not exclusively available to projects in these sectors, they are key focus areas of the fund given the urgent need that exists within them for development of a sustainable pipeline of skills and talent,” Mkhosi says.
She expects the project to result in economic benefits for SA and that the project and funding vehicle will make it easier for youngsters to pursue careers in technology and sectors related to it. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media