South African innovation agency invests R300m


13 November 2015

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) invested in 17 new projects in the 2014/2015 year, according to the organisation’s first annual report. Cash dispersed in project and programme related funding amounted to R371-million over the year.

The agency published its report on 6 November at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria; it is planning regionally launches in Durban on 18 November and on 19 November in Cape Town.

The strategy

Khungeka Njobe

Board chairperson of the Technology Innovation Agency, Khungeka Njobe. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)

The strategy adopted by the board for the period 2015 to 2020 emphasized its funding focus in the early parts of the innovation value chain – in particular technology development and pre-commercialisation activities – remained as is, said board chairperson Khungeka Njobe.

“Our goal is to ensure that innovation ideas can be shaped into viable technology development projects and that we de-risk the technology innovations for commercialisation funding by our partners,” she said. “To achieve these aims, we have established the following funding mechanisms – the Seed Fund, the Technology Development Fund and the Commercialisation Support Fund.”

The TIA looks for investment opportunities in sectors such as mining, health biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, energy, and agricultural biotechnology.

Year on year performance

tia graphic

The graphic shows the various streams where the TIA money is spent. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)

The Parliamentary grant to the TIA decreased by 30%, or R143-million, in the period under review, to R338-million, from R481-million in the previous year. Specific contracted agreements recognised as income in 2014/15 amounted to R51- million, a drop of 18% over the previous year’s amount of R62-million.

Other income increased 225% to R83-million, from R26-million in the 2013/14 year. A significant amount of R59-million represented the profit on the sale of an equity investment in an associate company. The TIA’s financial year runs from April to March.

Of the amount spent, R371-million, a 4% increase, was for project grants and R15.9-million represented loans. The board said it was satisfied with the performance of the organisation against the predetermined performance objectives and targets, having reached 73%.

“We expect that these projects will soon feed into the TIA mainstream Technology Development Fund,” read the report. “A total of 38 innovative products were developed through support provided by the Technology Platforms; eight technologies reached demonstration stage (TRL 7) and six were taken up by the market.”

Barlow Manilal

Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the Technology Innovation Agency.(Image: Technology Innovation Agency)

Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the TIA, was positive about this year’s report. “We are now well-positioned to continue, in an accelerated manner, with the numerous impressive projects contained in the annual report.

“There are also significant process improvements to augment governance and the control environment so that the clean audit achieved in the period under review becomes the organisational standard,” he said.

“Strategic partnerships, collaboration, high yield synergistic relationships, both nationally, on the African continent and further afield, will be a key focus as we play a role to position South Africa for greater localisation and beneficiation in support of the National Development Plan goals.”

He added that the agency’s five-year strategic plan had been approved and this would guide the organisation forward.

The TIA is a statutory body. Its vision is to be a world-class, leading technology innovation agency that stimulates and supports technological innovation to improve quality of life for all South Africans. This is in line with South Africa’s National Development Plan for skills development, to ensure a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path.

According to the agency, it primarily uses South Africa’s science and technology base to develop new industries, create sustainable jobs and help to diversify the economy. It invests in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, industrial biotechnology, health, mining, energy and information and communications technology.

More information on the TIA’s funding guidelines can be found here. reporter