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Youth get tech funding

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The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) last week launched the Youth Technology Innovation Fund (YTIF).

It says the fund will, among others, build pipeline projects for the TIA sectors and promote a culture of technology innovation among SA's youth.

“SA's young technology innovators now enjoy even greater opportunities to become the future drivers of the country's vital knowledge economy.”

Vital technology

TIA CEO Simphiwe Duma explained that the fund has been designed to achieve these objectives by giving young South African innovators access to funding, mentorship and business support to enhance their chances of commercial success and maximise the contributions they make to technological innovation in the country.

“It is widely accepted, in all areas of industry, that technology innovation is a prerequisite for continued success and sustainable growth and development,” said TIA GM of special projects Margaret Mkhosi. “Nowhere is innovation imperative more evident than in SA's vital technology sector.”

She added that the YTIF was created to encourage and practically support such innovation by enabling the country's young inventors, researchers and entrepreneurs to transform their creative technology ideas into commercially viable opportunities and enterprises.

Innovation incentive

The YTIF is available to young innovators between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, and application for support is open to individuals, school leavers, students, and researchers from science councils and higher education institutions.

“Successful applicants enjoy access to an array of support funding and services, including SABS [South African Bureau of Standards] product certification of up to R100 000, intellectual property protection of up to R150 000, 160 hours of business coaching, a voucher worth up to R250 000 for services at TIA Technology Stations and platforms, and access to business incubation services through TIA partner organisations,” says the agency.

It adds that up to four individuals involved in the supported projects can also qualify for an annual stipend of up to R60 000 for a two-year period.

Mkhosi said 13 projects have already been selected to receive this combination of funding and support services. However, the TIA welcomes new applications and proposals, particularly from projects that may benefit SA's currently under-resourced sectors, including, but not limited to, health, advanced manufacturing, mining, ICT, energy, industrial biotechnology and agriculture.

Mkhosi also said through its creative combination of financial, technical and business support structures, the YTIF not only provides vital assistance to its approved technology projects, but also offers the next generation of innovators the incentive they need to pursue a future in technology. “By creating such opportunities for our country's future innovation leaders, the fund will be contributing to a brighter and more sustainable economic future for all South Africans.”

In March 2012, the TIA and the SABS signed a memorandum of agreement, valued at R30 million over the next three years, to give young innovators supported by the YITF access to SABS testing facilities.

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