Activate the entrepreneur in you.
Do you have a technology that can be commercialised and turned into a business? Or a start-up that needs support to grow?

Now in its second year, TuksNovation Activate is a challenge that searches for cutting edge and innovative technologies and start-ups that can be grown into successful businesses. The competition is open to all UP and GIBS students, alumni and academic staff. Winners will receive 8 months of business incubation or acceleration by TuksNovation and R10 000 cash.

DSBD Logo High resolution.jpg
Agritech, AgriFintech and
Foodtech Partner:
Supported by:
seda logo dbsd hr.jpg
ADAMS Logos_2017-1.jpg
To get the inside scoop, be sure to attend an Activation Session!

For more information about the challenge as well as an exclusive Industry Insights session by one of our partners to help you prepare your entry, join us at one of the following Activation Sessions:

Activation Session 1​

Date:        Wednesday 6 March 2019

Time:        12:40 – 13:20

Venue:      Auditorium,

                  Plant Science Complex,

                  UP Hatfield Campus

Activation Session 2

Date:        Tuesday 12 March 2019

Time:        12:40 – 13:20

Venue:      Exhibition Space, Engineering 1,  

                  UP Hatfield Campus

Challenge Rules and Conditions

​•    Call for entries open on 11 February 2019.

•    Submit your technology or technology startup online.

•    Entries must be at “proof of concept” or prototype stage or must have demonstrated commercial feasibility. 

•    NO ideas will be considered.

•    Existing startups that need support for further growth are encouraged to apply. 

•    Entries closed on 22 March 2019.

Competition Phases

Phase 1: Activation & Screening

During this phase, online entries are open. Entrants are encouraged to attend an Activation Session, where they will get deeper understanding of the rationale behind the challenge and an exclusive opportunity hear from the partners behind the challenge.

Phase 2: Semi-Finals & Innovation Bootcamp

The Innovation Bootcamp provides semi-finalists with a unique opportunity to further refine their technologies and align it with market needs. It includes interactive sessions on design thinking, business model canvass and the elevator pitch. Following the Bootcamp, semi-finalists will attend a Business Model Bootcamp and will present their technologies and business models to a panel of adjudicators.

Phase 3: Finals, Business Plan Bootcamp & Awards

Finalists will attend a hands-on business plan writing session and will receive dedicated mentorship from experts and to assist them in developing business plans and perfecting their pitches. Finalists must submit their Business Plans before presenting to a panel of adjudicators. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 25 May 2019.

Phase 4: Business Incubation 

Winners will participate in the TuksNovation Virtual Incubation or Acceleration Programmes, depending on the stage of the start-up. This is an 8 month programme which includes access to business experts, mentorship, training and technology development support.

Scope of Entries
  • Entries will be accepted for technologies from the following focus sectors:

          -  Artificial Intelligence

          -  Smart Cities
          -  FinTech & InsureTech
          -  AgriTech & FoodTech
          -  IoT
          -  Blockchain
          -  Additive & Advanced Manufacturing

          -  CleanTech

          -  EdTech

          -  BioTech

          -  Big Data  

          -  Analytics

          -  Information Security

          -  Connectivity

          -  eCommerce

          -  Other

  • Entries must demonstrate innovation in the business model, underlying technology, or the application of the technology.


  • Entries must demonstrate a need in the market for the relevant technology.


  • Entries must be at “proof of concept” or prototype stage or must have demonstrated commercial feasibility.


  • Preference may be given to start-ups with demonstrated commercial feasibility.


  • No entries at "idea" stage will be accepted.

  • The competition is open to individuals, small teams and business entities from University of Pretoria or Gordon Institute of Business students, alumni and academic staff as well as partner network applicants.


  • Entrants are not required to be formally registered as a legal business entity to enter the competition, but winners must commit to register in a business form appropriate to an SMME to participate in incubation. Winners will also have to obtain a Tax Clearance Certificate. TuksNovation will provide guidance in this regard.


  • Should they win, entrants must be willing able commit to participate in the 8 month TuksNovation Virtual Incubation or Acceleration Programmes in 2019 and 2020 and must sign an Incubation Agreement with TuksNovation.


  • Preference may be given to start-ups with demonstrated commercial feasibility.


  • TuksNovation and partner staff who are involved in planning the competition, members of the adjudication panels, and their immediate families, may not enter the competition.


Key Dates

Phase 1:

•    21 February 2019: Activation Session 1
•    12 March 2019 :Activation Session 2     
•    22 March 2019: Entries Close           


•    4 -5 April 2019: Innovation Bootcamp      
•    6 April 2019: Semi-Finalist Pitching              

Phase 3:

•    13 April 2019: Business Plan Bootcamp         
•    3 May 2019: Business Plan Submissions          
•    11 May 2019: Finalist Pitching           
•    25 May 2019: Awards     

Phase 4:

•    1 Jun 2019: Virtual Incubation Programme / Acceleration Programme Starts         

Adjudication Criteria

All semi-finalists and finalists will be primarily adjudicated by an adjudication panel consisting of industry expects, technical specialists and entrepreneurs. Entries will be judged based on the following pillars:

The Solution

  • Originality / Creativity / Innovation – Novelty and innovation in the problem that the solutions solves and/or how the problem is solved

  • Design - Design of the proposed solution

  • Feasibility - Feasibility and time frames to develop the proposed technology

The Business

  • Business Model - Business model or concept and activities needed to deliver the solution

  • Market - Market at which the solution will be aimed as well as competitors in this market

  • Value Proposition - Relationship between the market and how their needs will be met, i.e. value created

  • Financials - Revenue model of the business

  • Team - Key roles and team members in the business

The Pitch

  • Quality and the impact of the pitch


Value Add and Strategic Fit

  • Value that TuksNovation will add and strategic fit with TuksNovation and its partner’s objectives

  • Entries must be submitted on or before the closing date of the competition, which is midnight on 22 March 2019.


  • By submitting an entry, entrants confirm their availability on all of the provided “Key Dates” as well as their availability to meet with TuksNovation mentors.

Awarding of Prizes
  • Winners will be awarded a R10 000 cash prize and access to the Virtual Incubation or Acceleration Programme once an incubation agreement has been signed with TuksNovation NPC. 


  • All finalists will be eligible for the final awards presented in May


  • The incubation and acceleration agreement will require that winners participate in certain incubation and acceleration activities such as engaging with business mentor(s) and attending relevant courses.


  • Entry into the Virtual Incubation and Acceleration Programme and the award of a prize does not imply that your solution will be procured by any of the stakeholders in the competition and does not guarantee market uptake of your solution.

  • Afgri Technology Services has a first right to negotiate with winners in the AgriFintech, AgriTech and FoodTech sectors to invest in their start-up businesses within 2 (two) months after the awarding of a prize to a winner, or it will lapse in its entirety.

Intellectual Property
  • All background intellectual property (IP) shall be deemed to vest in and remain the sole property of the party that contributed same and/or disclosed same to the other party, including background intellectual property in existence prior to the start of the Activate Challenge.


  • Each entrant is responsible for ensuring that their entry does not infringe on third-party intellectual property rights.


  • Each entrant must hold the necessary rights to utilise any third-party intellectual property in the way proposed in their submission.


  • TuksNovation and the competition partners are committed to ensuring the confidentiality of your ideas and will not share your information with third parties.


  • All adjudication panel members and mentors sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) preventing them from using or sharing any information related to your entry.


  • As a potential entrant to the competition you should be aware of the provisions of the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act 51 of 2008 (IPR Act) and the regulations thereto. The IPR Act can be downloaded here: TuksNovation will assist prize winners in complying with the Act.

  • Situations not covered by these rules and the adjudication criteria will be resolved by the organisers of the competition, and their decision will be final.


  • The competition organisers reserve the right to amend these rules without notice, to clarify the competition requirements or to cater for an unforeseen situation.


  • The adjudication criteria will serve only as a guideline and the decision taken by the judges will be final.


  • TuksNovation reserves the right to terminate the application of any candidate in the event that they put TuksNovation into disrepute while in the competition process.

Need More Info?

If you have any questions, get in touch with us!


Contact: Ms Nosipho Qwabe @ or 012 420 3098 OR


Visit the TuksNovation Centre @Humanities Building, 14th floor.​


DSBD Logo High resolution.jpg
Agritech, AgriFintech and
Foodtech Partner:
Supported by:
seda logo dbsd hr.jpg
ADAMS Logos_2017-1.jpg

© 2018 by TuksNovation

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