MUT and the Deep Tech Venture Builder

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), in partnership with the Technological Higher Education Network South Africa (THENSA), are working on a Deep Tech Venture Builder (Deep Tech VB) which aims to bring together universities of technology, investors, technopreneurs and government to build a dynamic tech ecosystem.

Mangosuthu Univesity of Technology (MUT) representatives recently attended a Deep Tech Venture Builder workshop in April which took place at CPUT’s Belville Campus.

The government has called for higher education bodies to help with solutions for poverty, unemployment, and inequality. This has proved difficult for South Africa’s 26 public universities. For many years, universities of technology have lacked infrastructure, research and development, funding, adequate resources, and capacity to help out.

The aim of the Deep Tech VB is to level the playing field and for MUT it is essential. It also falls in line with many of the themes for Africa Day and Africa Month for MUT. The Deep Tech VB will help to work towards an Africa devoid of hunger. It will also help to create better infrastructure and help to eliminate unemployment.

According to a recent Department of Science and Innovation report in 2020, MUT has the smallest amount of R&D expenditure. Sources of funding are desperately needed.

For Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) at universities of technology, these challenges have stopped them from becoming big players and helping the South African National System of Innovation (NSI). The NSI helps government, industry, civil society and academia to help towards building a better South Africa.

With a lack of funding universities of technology will fail to bring innovative technologies into commercial use. It will also stop them from being competitive and relevant.

Deep Tech VB is the brainchild of Dr Revel Iyer, Director: Technology Transfer & Industry Linkages at CPUT. He was particularly concerned about the science system’s ability to ‘’successfully commercialise deep tech innovations in the country’’.

After having discussions with Warren Le Fleur of Koya Capital, a learning transformation consultancy firm, Dr Iyer was convinced that it could become viable. He then approached THENSA with the opportunity to partner with them and it was at this point that he saw how Deep Tech VB could allow for a collaborative approach with a multitude of universities. Thanks to funding for the first year, from the Research and Innovation System for Africa (RISA), universities and partners will come together to design the Deep Tech VB.

It is hoped that the Deep Tech VB will lead to cutting edge scientific and engineering research and lead to deep tech startups in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced materials.

The hope is that Deep Tech VB will help to solve the many inequalities within South Africa.

‘’Identify a problem that you can solve, you can then monetize solutions. This is what entrepreneurs do,’’ said Prof MM Ramogale, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT.

The second workshop for the Deep Tech VB will take place from June 6 – 7 at the Southern Sun OR Tambo International Hotel in Johannesbu