University of Pretoria launches TuksNovation high-tech business incubator and accelerator

The TuksNovation business incubator and accelerator was opened by Honourable Minister Lindiwe Zulu from the Department of Small Business, Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) CEO Ms Mandisa Tshikwatamba and UP’ Vice-Chancellor Prof Cheryl de la Rey. . Centre Manager's speech:

Welcome dignitaries

Thank you Prof Maharaj

Minister of Small Business Development , Honourable Lindiwe Zulu

dti Executives

SEDA executives

Professor Cheryl De la Rey


The TuksNovation Board



Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon,

Firstly let me welcome all our honoured guests who have travelled and made the time to participate in this memorable event.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping the way we live, work, and communicate. It is transforming almost every aspect of society, from education and healthcare to commerce and government.

Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the medical sector. 3D printing has already been used to replace part of a rib cage and the technology is estimated to be used in organ transplants by as early as 2024.

“Big” Data is analysed to reveal patterns and trends. Smart phones are being used to track information about media consumption and even your current location. This data is used to make smart inferences to inform marketing campaigns.

Artificial intelligence can learn from past mistakes and make complex decisions based on big data. AI, in its embodied form of robot, is already transforming the manufacturing sector and might soon start disrupting blue collar jobs. Rapid developments in machine learning may solve pressing issues in society, but also present new challenges. It may lead to job misplacement and cybersecurity threats, such as the unethical use of data.

Blockchain is a relatively new type of distributed ledger technology that enables the decentralised storage and transfer of information. It is already been used as a powerful transaction tool in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

With the increase of sensor technology, the internet of things is set to grow at a rapid pace. It is estimated that by 2022, 1 trillion different sensors could be connected to the internet. IoT continues to spread to across all aspects of our daily lives and can be seen in smart cities across the globe.

As the cornerstone of the fourth industrial revolution, the internet might become a basic human right in the next 6 years. It is estimated that over half of the world’s population is now online. In South Africa alone, about 65% of citizens over the age of 16 are online. Not only does the internet connect people, but it also provides basic services to those who need it most. It is a key driver of fintech innovations such as mobile money wallets, which gives the unbanked access to the formal economy. As internet penetration is increasing, so is business opportunities.

The digital transformation bought about by the Fourth Industrial revolution presents both challenges and opportunities to South Africa’s economy. Although it may displace jobs, it presents an opportunity for local innovators to come up with solutions to meet societies’ needs and aspirations and increase South Africa’s international competitiveness in doing so.

South African Challenges

Despite the promises of innovation that the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings, the recent release of South Africa’s latest unemployment figures reminds us of the task that lies ahead. 6,1 million of South Africa’s working population is unemployed with youth unemployment standing at 38,8%. Youth unemployment amongst graduates is also of concern, with young graduates having a unemployment rate of 11,9%. 39% of PhD graduates are not employed within the first year after graduation and 21% of PhD graduates are not working in their field of specialisation.

In the light of South Africa’s high youth unemployment rates, regulators and academic institutions are looking towards youth entrepreneurship as a viable solution.

However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, South Africa has a low entrepreneurial intention rate, raking 51 out of 64 countries. This means that only about 12% of the population between the ages of 18 and 64 intends to start a business in the next three years.

The mammoth task of addressing South Africa’s unemployment crisis calls for government, industry and academia to come together to create new economic opportunities through the power of entrepreneurship.

Role of Tertiary Education Institutions ins SA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Tertiary education institutions are well positioned to address graduate unemployment by promoting and creating opportunities for entrepreneurship. The university is also ideally positioned to contribute to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem as its vast multi-disciplinary expertise enables it to facilitate the creation of diverse technology innovations and spinouts. The opportunity is timely because many students are still unclear about their career decisions and also because entrepreneurial intentions tend to decrease with age.

Historically, universities relied primarily on intellectual property licensing as a means of technology commercialisation. However, in an effort to empower graduates and create more jobs, the focus is shifting to spinning out new companies to develop and commercialise nascent technologies. Despite this change in focus, the cost and risk of developing and commercialising new technologies remains high, making it extremely hard for aspiring young technology entrepreneurs to start businesses.


The University of Pretoria is positioning itself as an entrepreneurial university through collaboration with government, industry, alumni and other stakeholders. It is from this vision that the establishment of TuksNovation came about.

TuksNovation is a non-profit organisation that was founded by the University of Pretoria in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Small Business through its Small Enterprise Development Agency.

As a high-tech business incubator, TuksNovation fosters innovation by providing specialised product and business development support to tech startups. By identifying and supporting promising early stage innovations, TuksNovation lowers the risk of the technology development and commercialisation stages for both the inventors as well as investors.

Our approach is rooted in the triple helix model, by building strong networks between academia, government and industry in order to create new spinout companies that will benefit society. Open innovation allow our corporate partners to get first access to a pipeline of new ideas, which may in turn lead to new products for their customers.

TuksNovation initially supported the creation of spinouts in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology. It was a logical starting point for us, as EBIT consists of four schools with various departments and postgraduate student numbers of in excess of 3800. The School of Engineering is ranked number one in Africa. TuksNovation is now expanding its services to high-tech innovators from other faculties within the university as well as industry.

TuksNovation’s three core programmes offer tailored support to each incubated startup. These programmes are supported by UP’s business school, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, UP’s Department of Business Management, EBIT’s Graduate School of Technology Management, UP’s Technology Transfer Office as well as industry mentors and panellists.

· In the 12-month Virtual Incubation Programme, we initially provide technology and business model development support in order to ensure that the technology is fully developed and addresses a relevant market need. This support is delivered by business mentors in partnership with industry and by UP professors. Clients also have access to selected UP laboratories as well as hot-desking space and prototyping facilities in the TuksNovation Business Centre.

· Following this, our 4 month Business Launch Bootcamp help prepare startups for business launch. At the end of the boot camp, TuksNovation students pitch their business cases to investors and industry leaders and are required to secure funding or market access opportunities in order to enter the Accelerator Programme. Industry leaders will provide business mentorship and critical industry linkages.

· The Acceleration Programme provides practical support to early stage startups to help them grow their businesses. In this programme, industry leaders provide business mentorship and critical industry linkages for market access. Startups in this programme receive offices in the TuksNovation Business Centre.

The TuksNovation Business Centre is a new centre located in the Humanities Building in the centre of UPs main Hatfield Campus. It boasts with a state-of-the-art prototyping and development facility with 3D printers and a CNC machine, namely the Inventor’s Lab. Its Sky Lab is comprised of hot-desking space. It also includes a meeting area, boardroom as well as office space for start-ups that are trading.

I would like to introduce you to the power team who will help TuksNovation achieve its goals.

· Ms Nosipho Qwabe is the TuksNovation Portfolio Manager and she will be actively working with the TuksNovation start-ups on a day to day basis.

· Ms Busiswa Gama is the Financial and Administration Officer and will be providing essential support in these areas to the TuksNovation team and clients.


On behalf of TuksNovation, I invite you to take this exhilarating journey with us, as we partner with some of the countries smartest innovators to add new names to South Africa’s Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.


World Economic Form

A Goneos-Malka, 2015 (Badal & Srinivasan, 2011.)

© 2018 by TuksNovation

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