Grant funding round for SA start-ups launched
South Africa’s Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) is now accepting applications from start-ups, for its final round of grant funding. Designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and product developers with pre-revenue inventions can apply for funding of up to R800,000.
In addition to the funding, the DISF provides pre-revenue support to innovative technologies and tech-enabled concepts and products.
Because of the levels of risk involved with early-stage innovation, these individuals/businesses, according to DSIF, are unable to easily attract capital from traditional banks or funding organisations.
The seed investment helps applicants explore their prospects by creating and building prototypes, testing solutions, and proving their assumptions about technical and market-related issues.
Supported by the Technology Innovation Agency and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the DISF is a Craft and Design Institute (CDI) project.
Since its inception in 2014, the DISF has distributed R17.8 million in grant financing for innovations. The DISF is handled by CDI Capital, a CDI subsidiary formed to accelerate finance for SMEs.
According to the institute, applications are welcomed from a variety of industries, including agritech, biotechnology and health, construction, advanced manufacturing technology, low-carbon technology, renewable energy, information, communication technology, and software engineering (data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence).
The CDI says that the initiative has already exceeded all its objectives, with participating enterprises having created 35 inventions through rounds of funding, many of which have received prizes and garnered both local and worldwide investments totalling R377 million.
"Ask any innovator what is preventing them from developing new products and expanding their business, and they will tell you: the resources that allow them to take the next steps. This is exactly what the DISF does: it seeds an innovator's next phase and puts them on the route to commercialization. Without a fund like this, very few of the fantastic South African inventions supported by the DISF over the years would have seen the light of day," says Erica Elk, Group CEO at the CDI.