Seed Fund has R6.5m fund for Cape innovators

Innovation in the Western Cape is set to get another healthy boost, with the announcement that designers, inventors, entrepreneurs and product developers  can apply for grants of up to half a million Rands each from the second round of the Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF).

The Fund is inviting individuals and SMME’s in this round to apply with pre-revenue innovative technologies and tech-enabled ideas and products with the potential to positively impact the agri-processing, health and bio-tech, and the manufacturing sectors.Design Innovation Seed Fund

Launched in 2014 as a World Design Capital project, the first round of seed funding was allocated to develop 12 innovative Western Cape ideas. The 12 participants are already proving the value of the investment with the registration of IP for three new products; the creation of 18 new jobs and a collective turnover of over R2.4m in the past six months from the early stages of marketing their new products/services. Three businesses are showing a market potential of over R7m collectively for the next twelve months.

The Seed Fund has given these innovators and entrepreneurs a little bit of breathing space and an opportunity to flex their muscles – which is all they really needed to take their next steps.

Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CCDI, said that the DISF has shown that the right funding at the right time put to the right use can have a tremendous impact on small businesses and help them turn ideas into reality.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen; everyone has them. But it’s a whole other story to be able to bring your ideas to life. It takes time and resources – not just money. It is a process that is full of twists, turns and challenges, and you need to be passionate, resilient and tenacious. The Seed Fund has given these innovators and entrepreneurs a little bit of breathing space and an opportunity to flex their muscles – which is all they really needed to take their next steps.

“More importantly though, we didn’t just give them the money. We walked beside them every step of the way over the two years providing support, advice and access to additional expertise when they needed it.”

Who can apply?Design Innovation Seed Fund2

The DISF is open to: Western Cape based early-stage small and medium enterprises/entrepreneurs/researchers; students at Western Cape tertiary institutions as long as the institution does not already have an Intellectual Property claim to the product/service; pre-revenue businesses in incubation or entering incubation; or Existing SMEs with a new products/innovation that is still pre-revenue.

Applicants to the DISF need to show enough evidence of innovation in design, technology and/or its application; market appetite or sufficient evidence of market potential or competitive advantage; and a management team able to drive the process.

The business, product or concept must have a knowledge focus and should include technological innovation or design. The business should not be able to raise funds easily from traditional banks or funding agencies because of the risks involved. Strong preference will be given to businesses with at least 25% black ownership and/or good job creation potential. Entrepreneurs must match 20% of the funding in cash or in-kind contributions.

The DISF is a project of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) with investment and management funds respectively provided by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.