Deep Tech Venture Builder intensifies commercialization efforts

A pioneering initiative in South Africa is launching a venture builder model that leverages technology from higher education institutions. The project is taking shape through a participatory and collaborative approach, assembling the necessary building blocks.

The second phase of a series of eight workshops, led by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in collaboration with the Technological Higher Education Network South Africa (THENSA), focuses on establishing a Deep Tech Venture Builder. This initiative aims to foster collaboration among technology universities, investors, technopreneurs, and government entities within a vibrant tech ecosystem.

The workshop, held on 6-7 June in Johannesburg, South Africa, brought together approximately 40 delegates who shared a common objective of laying the foundation for an adapted venture builder.

During the event, participants engaged in detailed discussions on the operational aspects of the organization.

Six more workshops are planned throughout the year, culminating in the official launch of the finalized Venture Builder in April 2024.

Dr. Revel Iyer, the Director of Technology Transfer and Industry Linkages at CPUT, has confirmed that the pilot program for the Venture Builder will be conducted at their Bellville campus, located south of Cape Town. The governing body of the Venture Builder will consist of representatives from the participating institutions.

He further stated that the ongoing phase, which necessitates funding from the Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA Fund), focuses on developing the structure of the Venture Builder and establishing partnerships in a formal manner.

CPUT and the technology skills development consortium, THENSA, are collaborating to design a customized Venture Builder model that aims to accelerate technology innovation and commercialization by establishing a robust technology ecosystem.

This initiative aims to attract top talent, leaders, investors, and government entities to collaborate and establish a stronger, more innovative, inclusive, and successful network.

The motivation behind this intervention stems from the acknowledgment of the marginalized position of technology-focused universities in the development of the National System of Innovation.

The modified Venture Builder model tackles this challenge by emphasizing four key factors that drive the success of spin-offs: effective technology innovation, capable and skilled technopreneur teams, scalable and cohesive business models, and access to investment finance.

Through a collective endeavor, participants reached a consensus that the network strives to grow stronger, more innovative, inclusive, and ultimately achieve success.

According to Brigitte Binneman, the Deputy Director of Innovation Priorities and Instruments at the Department of Science and Innovation, securing support from all stakeholders during the design phase of the Venture Builder is crucial for its successful development and subsequent implementation. She expressed confidence that the initiative would drive technology commercialization for the benefit of all South Africans.

“We look forward to the implementation of the tailored Venture Builder and the resulting success in technology commercialization. This has the potential to showcase the strength of collective endeavors compared to individual ones,” she said in an interview with University World News.

While acknowledging that the Venture Builder may not directly generate entrepreneurs from the academic realm, Binneman believes it will play a crucial role in catalyzing technology commercialization by partnering with teams willing to advance these technologies or by fostering spinoff initiatives.

Binneman further emphasized that the adapted Venture Builder program aims to drive the commercialization of technologies from previously disadvantaged institutions. Through joint implementation efforts, these institutions are expected to contribute valuable technologies to the program.



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By Ryan

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