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TuksNovation partners French institution to accelerate start-ups

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Professor Tawana Kupe, University of Pretoria vice-chancellor and principal.
Professor Tawana Kupe, University of Pretoria vice-chancellor and principal.

The University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) technology business incubator TuksNovation has partnered with French-based public institution Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT), on a cross-acceleration exchange programme that supports tech start-ups.

The programme between South Africa and France will offer technology start-ups the opportunity to test and validate their business models and solutions in a foreign market, facilitating market access and the opportunity to build partnerships.

IMT focuses on providing skills on key transformations in digital technology, industry, energy and education, within several sectors, including higher education, research and innovation in engineering.

The public institution trains engineers, managers and PhDs who will play an active role in the major changes of the 21st century, and conducts research on innovation in engineering and digital technology.

The partnership, which seeks to provide financial assistance and incubation to tech start-ups from each country, stems from a longstanding collaboration between UP and IMT Lille-Douai, a school of the IMT, established in 2015.

The collaboration is made possible by an agreement between the organisations and the Attaché for Innovation at the Embassy of France in SA, through the promotion of the development of technology start-ups.

“The project will be achieved by an exchange programme that supports one entrepreneur of a start-up from each country to spend two months at TuksNovation in South Africa, or at an IMT-related incubator,” says TuksNovation acting centre manager Dr Anthon Botha.

“The respective incubators will provide business incubation and acceleration, and also facilitate access to markets for start-ups in the African Anglophone and European markets.”

The selected entrepreneurs will have established companies in their final stages of business acceleration.

The broader partnership between UP and IMT will foster academic and scientific collaboration, provide opportunities for global experience, and facilitate advancement of knowledge based on frequent interactions between IMT and UP in the fields of education, research, innovation, business incubation and tech commercialisation, adds Dr Botha.

UP vice-chancellor and principal professor Tawana Kupe says he is excited about the opportunities this partnership will provide.

“This cross-collaborative exchange programme between TuksNovation and IMT will bring much-needed opportunities to allow the growth and development of local businesses. Most importantly, it will expose our entrepreneurs to a larger international market, thus showcasing to France and the world that SA – and by extension Africa – is open for business. We are also delighted to see the partnership between UP and IMT growing from strength to strength.”

The successful applicants will be on-boarded in April, and then prepared by means of virtual incubation for the two months of the exchange. Upon return, they will be assisted in confirming and operationalising partner and client agreements.

French ambassador to SA Aurélien Lechevallier says: “This programme represents a new step in the rapprochement of French and South African innovation ecosystems, and demonstrates the opportunities for cooperation between our two countries. It will support the internationalisation of research-based young innovative companies; an important condition for their growth and development.”

For more information, visit the Web site.

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