Author: Phindile Tshabangu, TuksNovation Centre Manager

Phindile Tshabangu, TuksNovation Centre Manager

Welcome to TuksNovation’s inaugural newsletter. We are excited to be launching this communication tool within a context of a post-pandemic landscape, where the future truly looks bright and alive with opportunity.

When I was appointed to head TuksNovation, I was given a  mandate to take the organisation into the next dimension. However South Africa was in the middle of Level 4 lockdown restrictions and business activity was at its most restricted. Hardly a time to lead a company into a new era.

It was a time of economic instability, with pressure on the national fiscus, deepening inequality, rising unemployment, and a number of people having to work from home. All of these developments resulted in a radical shift in the way we live and work. It is thus not an understatement to say the future of work as we know it has changed…forever!

Why do we then remain hopeful? We are hopeful because our mission as TuksNovation is to support high-growth businesses that are disruptors, game-changers and, industry transformers. Our aim is that through our support, entrepreneurs and the business sector can improve the low survival rates of new businesses in our country. We aspire to help build ventures that will build the economy.

Our efforts enable these nascent companies to gain access to markets and attract investments.

TuksNovation’s aim is to be a respected and aspirational destination for innovators from across the continent, a place that innovators can call home. The ventures we support are fundamentally driven by 4IR technologies, big data, machine learning and IoT across sectors. These include AgriTech, FinTech and HealthTech.

Our Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Tawana Kupe, recently launched the University of Pretoria Vice Chancellor’s Entrepreneurial Challenge. The UPVCC is billed as an annual showcase that identifies and unlocks entrepreneurship on the African continent, stimulating ideas in the Fourth Industrial Revolution technology sector. The entrepreneurs who are identified and supported by the Challenge have the potential to raise the profile of technologies originating in Africa, on a global platform. The ultimate objective is to drive innovation and, therefore, also attract more funding for the current and next generation of African entrepreneurs.

We are grateful for the catalytic support from the Vice-Chancellor and the continued support from the University of Pretoria.

Our vision

The commercial successes of search engine giant Google (Stanford University), Research in Motion (University of Waterloo), AI trailblazer DeepMind Technologies (University College London), and similar trailblazers, inspire us to dedicate our efforts to work even harder. The University of Pretoria belongs in this league and as TuksNovation, we are humbled by the responsibility of being a growth engine for the University and its efforts to originate start-ups that will enable this.

We have a committed team of professionals and partners who continue to support our work. We owe our origins to the visionary leadership and funding support from the University of Pretoria. In addition to UP’s support, the partnership and funding provided by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) have been pillars of strength and for that, we are grateful.

Our Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Tawana Kupe, has made an impassioned plea to the private sector to explore partnerships with TuksNovation. We echo this call to the private sector and re-confirm that TuksNovation is open for business and is seeking a title sponsor to scale the incubator facilitator and expand its reach.

Our success is Africa’s success and we look forward to reaching more innovators and entrepreneurs over decades to come.