Science and Technology Minister Dr Blade Nzimande says progress has been made towards the establishment of a five-year R5 billion SMME fund aimed at helping innovators commercialise their products.
The Minister said this when he briefed the media ahead of tabling the department’s Budget Vote at the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.
“I am pleased to report that progress has been made towards establishing a fund that will help bring locally developed innovations into the market.
“The fund is designed to largely de-risk the early stages of technology commercialization and business development.
“An injection of R1 billion per year for five years is expected to make a significant impact in making these businesses more attractive to investors for significant scale-up,” he said.
The fund is expected to kick-in on 1 April 2020.
The department’s Director-General, Dr Phil Mjwara, said the fund is being mooted in recognising that the country has a number of start-up companies that are trying to commercialise their products, but in the absence of funding, they are unable to upscale and attract investments.
Mjwara said, for example, that one of the challenges faced by SMME innovators was suppliers expressing an interest in taking up their products, but are not willing to invest in them due to concerns that the companies might not remain sustainable and might shut down “in three or four years’ time”.
He said in this regard, the department was thinking of introducing an insurance programme to sustain SMME enterprises.