Accelerator seeks SA agritech, cleantech disruptors

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 03 May 2024
Participants in the challenge will have access to Tshwane University of Technology's resource infrastructure.
Participants in the challenge will have access to Tshwane University of Technology's resource infrastructure.

Pan-African venture capital (VC) firm Anza Capital and the Institute for the Future of Work (IFOW) at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) have launched the Innovating for Tomorrow: Anza-TUT Future Tech Challenge, to foster innovation and entrepreneurial growth.

According to a statement, the initiative seeks to unearth and accelerate high-potential start-ups in agritech, digital tech and cleantech.

The challenge offers an opportunity for start-ups to secure up to R5 million in VC funding from Anza Capital, subject to due diligence. It is a launchpad that seeks to promote the empowerment of tech entrepreneurs and support them to learn the ropes of growing their business.

In addition, TUT says it is set to provide a wealth of in-kind support and access to its extensive resource infrastructure.

Selected participants will also benefit from exclusive access to the SA Innovation Summit 2024 (SAIS), including opportunities for pitching, networking and specialised workshops, to maximise deal-making potential.

The SAIS is billed as the largest start-up event in Africa, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators from across the continent to network, share ideas and foster collaboration.

"As IFOW, we are delighted to collaborate with Anza Capital on this exciting initiative. This challenge aligns with IFOW’s mandate of working with key stakeholders to support high-impact research and innovations, particularly those focused on 4IR [the fourth industrial revolution], that address societal challenges,” says Dr Unene Gregory, IFOW manager for public-private partnerships.

“It also aligns with TUT’s mission of being ‘a people’s university that makes knowledge work’, which includes engaging in impactful research.”

Anza Capital is an early-stage VC firm focused on driving innovation and growth in the agritech, digital tech and cleantech sectors.

Van-Lee Gunyere, principal at Anza Capital, comments: "The partnership between Anza Capital and TUT demonstrates our dedication as an investor in early-stage technology and innovation start-ups to promote and foster economic development in Africa.

“On average, African countries spend only 0.42% of their GDP on research and development. Only a few countries − such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa − are close to 1%, while the global average is 1.7%.

“Anza Capital aims to reduce this funding gap between local universities' research and development and commercialise their intellectual property to the global market."

Amid global shifts, Southern Africa's investment resilience has emerged, with 26% investment volume and 44% share in investment value, according to the 2023 African Private Capital Industry Survey.

Start-ups that meet the eligibility criteria, including demonstrating significant growth potential or possessing unique deep tech or intellectual property, are encouraged to apply.

The challenge is committed to nurturing South African-based talent, contributing to the local innovation ecosystem's vibrancy and sustainability, notes TUT and Anza Capital.

Interested innovators are required to submit their application by 31 May.

For more information on the challenge and to submit entries, visit the challenge website.