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By Chisom Jenniffer Okoye


UP embraces hi-tech with competition for young entrepreneurs

Social application Mingle is among three startups to benefit from a new business incubator programme.

A University of Pretoria (UP) student is set to reap benefits worth thousands of rand as part of the university’s launch of a new hi-tech incubator, aimed at the development of entrepreneurial skills.

Engineering student Targo Dove started a company, Mingle, with his business partner two years ago as a student.

Dove said when they saw on Twitter the university was running a competition for entrepreneurs for a business incubator called TuksNovation that would assist in boosting the development of their business, they wasted no time applying for it.

After competing with about 100 other businesses, they are now among the top three teams standing to benefit.

He says Mingle, a social application, would usually cost thousands of rands to build from the ground up.

Anea Burke le Roux, centre manager for TuksNovation, said the nonprofit organisation was positioning the university as an entrepreneurial institution through partnerships with the departments of small business and trade and industry through the Small Enterprise Development Agency.

Le Roux said: “As a hi-tech business incubator, TuksNovation fosters innovation by providing specialised product and business development support to tech startups.

“By identifying and supporting promising early-stage innovations, TuksNovation lowers the risk of the technology development and commercialisation stages for both the inventors as well as investors.”

She said the incubator was supported by the university’s business school; the Gordon Institute of Business Science; its department of business management; EBIT’s graduate school of technology management; the university’s technology transfer office; and industry mentors and panellists.

The entrepreneurs are expected to go through a 12-month virtual incubation programme; a four-month business launch boot camp that helps in preparing for start-ups’ business launches; and an acceleration programme that helps to grow new businesses.

UP vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said: “We’ve ramped up our efforts to implement innovative strategies to leverage and commercialise homegrown technologies to create sustainable new enterprises and subsequently job opportunities.

“We realise that by developing and commercialising research and development projects within academic institutions and by creating new spinoff companies, universities can contribute to job creation and economic development.”

– jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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University of Pretoria (UP/TUKS)

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