Development & Commercialisation Team
Technology Commercialisation Manager
Saberi Marais is a Technology Commercialisation Manager at UCT. He focusses on assisting UCT researchers and innovators to commercialise their research outputs to realise their intended impact University. His experience in programme development, innovation support and technology transfer has resulted in licenses and the creation and support of University spinout companies. His role focusses on the valorisation of the University’s intellectual property, securing funding for technology development, commercialisation and start-up. Through his work he has collaborated with tech and non-tech business incubators, Provincial and national government agencies and programmes, and businesses to assist local innovators to realise their goals.
Saberi was the Head of the Seed Fund Programme (where he oversaw the implementation, management and pipeline growth of the early stage technology-enabling Fund), Acting Executive for the Agency’s Innovation Enabling Division and a Regional Business Development Manager at the Technology Innovation Agency. Saberi was also the Business Development Manager at Innovus, Stellenbosch University; and a Technology Transfer Manager at the South African Medical Research Council. Saberi’s co-founded Science Café Cape Town, an initiative that promoted science communication and appreciation among the public. Saberi is a member of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association; where he also served as past vice President of the Technology Innovation portfolio and was an executive committee member.
Saberi completed his MBA degree at Stellenbosch University; and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at UCT in Molecular and Cell Biology (cum laude). Saberi also completed the South African Patent Examination Board's Group 1 examinations. Saberi completed a number of SARIMA technology transfer and innovation courses; and later delivered these as part of the Association’s skills development initiatives.
Technology Commercialisation Manager
Francois joined the RC&I team in March 2014, having worked at Tecmo Automation, Newcom Fluid Management and the NorthWest University CRCED. In this National IP Management Office (NIPMO)-funded post, Francois will rely on his expertise and experience to move projects through the innovation space so that ultimately IP emanating from UCT researcher can be successfully applied in industry / for the benefit of society. He will primarily be involved in the management of the UCT PreSeed Fund and UCT TIA Seed Fund and associated projects.
Francois has been involved in developing electronic control and data acquisition solutions for a number of years. This specific work gave him broad exposure to various industries and disciplines in the South African market. Evolving from Engineer into System Engineer and finally Technology Manager, Francois has gained “real world” insights and experience on deploying new IP in the South African and African market place.
Post graduate studies in engineering management and work done with international incubation companies has given Francois a passion for using technology to drive South Africa into the future. Using innovation and technology, living conditions in South Africa can dramatically be improved for lower income South African and Africans. It is this notion that makes Francois "tick".
Innovation Funds Manager
Sean has over 15 years of investment experience across listed and unlisted debt and equity markets.
He began his career in the FirstRand Group in 2003 where he was responsible for research on unlisted small and medium-sized companies. In 2008 he moved to the group’s boutique leveraged finance team where he focussed on due diligence of mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts, company spin-offs and business restructuring. In 2011 he was contracted to the investment and wealth management business of Absa Capital where he consulted to executive clients on the structuring of private debt transactions. Sean joined Regarding Capital Management as an investment analyst in 2012 with a specific focus on researching listed debt, convertible bond and preference shares opportunities. He also co-managed the firms R1.9bn money market fund which was AA-rated by Fitch Ratings. In 2016 he worked as an investment analyst at Sanlam Investment Management before co-founding an independent investment management firm in 2017 where he served as an executive director and fund manager.
Sean joined the RC&I team in September 2020 and is responsible for overseeing the investment and risk functions of the various fund mandates under management. He holds undergraduate degrees in Economics and Information Systems as well as postgraduate Finance Honours and Masters’ degrees from the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is currently a PhD candidate at UCT studying the correlation of debt and equity capital raised by South African companies in foreign currency markets. Sean has also passed all the requisite Financial Services Board (“FSB”) exams for the management of third-party funds.
New Venture Support Manager
Niall Naidoo joined the RC&I team in September 2020 as the New Venture Support Manager. Prior to joining the team, Niall started his career in clinical dietetics where he established a private practice focusing on athletes during the 2016 Olympic games. He then shifted his focus towards academia where he was a lecturer and course convener at UCT's Section of Applied Management. During his time as a lecturer, he started a small strategy consulting practice focusing on the food, sport and healthcare sector. Niall holds a BSc.DIET, PG.DIP Diet, MBA and is currently a CFA level II and Ph.D. candidate. His Ph.D. aims at creating a valuation metric for the food products.
Niall will be responsible for providing entrepreneurial advisory, and business plan development and review for UCT spin-offs created to commercialise UCT IP.
Innovation Projects Manager
Kirsten joined the RC&I team in October 2020 having worked at the TEDI project and IDEA research unit at UCT, Kantar TNS and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development.
Kirsten has gained experience in development research, market research and research project management over a number of years by working on and managing multiple research projects, supervising the administration of the projects themselves and developing and presenting research, progress and financial reports to both clients and funders.
Kirsten completed her Masters in Development Finance at UCT’s Graduate School of Business with distinction in her dissertation focusing on the effect of financial innovation and it’s effect on economic growth in African countries. At RC&I she will primarily assist with the project/innovation fund management, project execution, project reporting and administration of the various projects being managed by the Innovation Manager and the Technology Commercialisation Managers.
Sivu Nxu is a Public Relations & Marketing professional who has recently joined the RC&I team.
Nxu was spear-heading Marketing & Communications for an accelerator based at UCT's Graduate School of Business. Nxu has championed various digital marketing campaigns with brands such as MTN Group, Department of Higher Education & Learning, to mention but a few. Nxu has gained experience in drawing up and executing marketing & communication strategies, social media marketing, digital marketing, internal & external communications, and has recently completed a market research course.
She completed her Public Relations & Communications Diploma through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Her role at RC&I is to take responsibility for the communications strategy and brand management to target the internal UCT research community and external stakeholders such as funders and industry.