SA SME Fund gets US$9.75m tech commercialisation boost

SOUTH AFRICA – Corporate South Africa, through its investment in the SA SME Fund, is enabling the commercialisation of technology innovations developed by South African universities through its R150 million (US$9.75m) investment into the University Technology Fund (UTF).

This is the first university technology fund in Africa, says the SA SME Fund.

It notes R25 million (US$1.63m) will be allocated to pre-commercialisation funding, which includes proof of concept and technology development support and R125 million for commercialisation.

Ketso Gordhan, CEO of the SA SME Fund, says:“This investment is intended to unlock the vast potential located inside our world-class universities by commercialising South African technology.

“This will not only create viable businesses and jobs but will also encourage a culture of innovation throughout universities in South Africa. We are exceptionally excited about the potential that this creates.”

According to the fund, SA punches above its weight in research capability, having doubled its output since 2000.

However, it notes that where the country lags is in the commercialisation of the research and patents, which is the gap the SA SME Fund’s investment is aiming to address.

While the UTF’s initial university partners are University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, which provide a pipeline for the fund and each contributed R20 million (US$1.3m) to co-invest with the UTF, the SA SME Fund’s next step is to expand the programme to universities across South Africa.

The fund says the UTF will be managed by Stocks and Strauss, an independent third-party fund manager.

It adds the founders and directors of Stocks and Strauss, Wayne Stocks and Daniel Strauss, have a deep understanding of technology and the early stage investment space, having been investors, founders and operationally involved in early stage technology businesses.

Wayne Stocks, partner at Stocks and Strauss, says: “We are excited to work with universities to commercialise the world-class intellectual property that has, and is being developed.

“We will work with them to leverage their research to drive sustainable growth, profit and transformation within the university ecosystem and the broader economy.”

The SA SME Fund was created in 2016 by big business to support entrepreneurs and help established small firms expand.

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