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UCT Innovation Builder Fund

The Innovation Builder Fund (IBF) was started in 2019, with a mandate to develop UCT research projects where initial proof of concept has been demonstrated. The intention of the fund is to support projects assessed to be commercially viable, where research outputs have either been protected, or have protectable intellectual property (IP).

The fund plays an important role in the UCT RC&I funding eco-system where early-stage projects can be incubated by de-risking fundamental development and technological risks to better understand the commercial potential of the opportunity.

RC&I acknowledges the cost of developing technology-based and -enabled innovation and the catalytic benefit that appropriately risk-adjusted funding provides to reduce technological risk, commercial risk and the time to market. This fund aims to assist innovators to demonstrate the underlying value of their research outputs. It provides them with the opportunity to generate key data to inform decisions and advance the development path. The Innovation Builder Fund intends to address this critical stage of development and to enable UCT to better manage its research outputs and intellectual property.

The application process for the IBF is in two-stages involving an Expression of Interest (EoI) followed by a Full Funding Application, if the EoI gate is passed.

Funding of up to R500 000 per project will be considered, over a maximum project duration of 12 months. The funds are provided by UCT and applicants are urged to budget frugally and not to include budget items that are “nice to haves”, merely to reach the maximum allowed funding level.

Qualifying applicants are current UCT members of staff and postgraduate students as well as existing UCT incubated projects or spin out companies where the university has the right to commercialise the intellectual property.

Fundable Activities

The following activities can be supported:

  • Demonstrating proof of concept (note that this assumes some level of proof of concept has been achieved using research funding)
  • Product, process (comprehensive technology package) and prototype development
  • Production of market samples and/or associated testing, analytical data and method development and specification sheet development
  • Refining and implementing designs
  • Conducting field trials
  • Support of certification activities
  • Piloting and scale-up and techno-economic evaluation
  • Detailed primary market research, or specialist consulting to assess market potential, users’ needs definition etc
  • Techno-economic, financial analysis of business/revenue model and/or business plan development

Where required, these activities may be outsourced to a service provider who should be identified in the proposal.

The following will not be funded:

  • No GOB staff salaries or student bursaries may be supported by the fund. A student may, however, be employed to conduct project tasks
  • Faculty overheads
  • Funding should not replace research funding
  • Computer equipment will require specific motivation and it is not the intention of the fund to support the purchase of personal computing equipment

Conference expenses will generally not be supported and should not be included within a budget unless special motivation has been provided to showcase a prototype or technology to gain market/ user feedback.

A call for applications will be made in the third quarter of 2021. The call for Expression of Interests will open on Thursday 12th August and close on Wednesday 25th August.

If you interested in applying, please complete the Expression of Interest form here.

For more information on the fund or the call for expressions of interest, please contact Ms Kirsten Amsterdam 021 650 5666.