The search for South Africa’s next Mark Shuttleworth has taken off in the Western Cape. The province’s newly launched Design Park is ready to shape the ideas of the province’s budding inventors, with a R6.5m fund to finance the best products.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, launched the Design Park which is based at the new headquarters of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), on 14 August 2014. Winde also opened the call for applications for a brand new Design Innovation Seed Fund. This is a joint fund between the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the Technology Innovation Agency. It will be implemented by the CCDI. This fund will enable entrepreneurs to commercialise their ideas and take them to the marketplace.
“We’re looking for the next Mark Shuttleworth. We want South Africa’s next big innovator to come from the Design Park. The park and fund offers support to innovators for high-risk early stage innovation. In the park, designers will have access to the space, equipment and resources they need to bring their ideas to life. Because these are shared services, they are able to keep costs low. We’ve seen the benefits for this model through the Bandwidth Barn, which has boosted the success of ICT entrepreneurs. The Western Cape’s design sector contributes R14bn to the national GDP and projections show the Design Park could increase that to R20b,” said Minister Winde.
The Design Park links creative entrepreneurs and designers to the industry, allowing them to test their products. It also provides exhibition space for their products.
“The goals of the Design Park include increasing the number of innovations which are commercialised and increase exports of design-related products. We want to improve the success rate of businesses in the sector by at least 30%. Ultimately this could see the creation of 14,000 jobs,” said Minister Winde.
The funding is available to:
- Western Cape-based early-stage SMEs, entrepreneurs and researchers.
- Students at Western Cape tertiary institutions that do not have an existing intellectual property claim to the product or service.
- Pre-revenue businesses in incubation, or entering incubation, or existing SMEs with new products/innovation that are still pre-revenue.