As of March, the DST had nine such funds for various sectors aligned to the NDP including citrus,
sugar, post-harvest, forestry, boat-building, aquaculture, wine, horticulture, minerals processing and paper and sugar milling.
Funding and support priorities are developed by industry associations, which can seek help from universities, science councils and other research agencies.
Minister Pandor said a number of the sectors had designed their funds to respond NDP aligned sectors
to declines in growth of the sectors by investigating products or processes that will create new market opportunities and thereby arrest respective declines.
In the 2014/15 financial year the department provided seed funding of R16 million and plans to add a further R51 NDP aligned sectors
million to the initiative this financial year, with a further R96 million of matching funding expected to be leveraged from industry.
The funding will also help develop industry relevant Masters
and PhD researchers and new technologies that can be adopted by companies.
In the past year the funds supported about 91 postgraduate students and eight interns.
Support for start-ups Another of the DST’s key priorities is to help nurture start-ups that can develop new products and services for the economy.
By 2019 the department wants to see over R2 billion in new financing secured for a portfolio of innovation initiatives that it funds,
including improving the performance of 10 000 small businesses through technology interventions.
Key to this will be the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) which is being revamped following a 2013 ministerial review that suggested,
among other things, that the agency plays a greater role in helping entrepreneurs to commercialise new ideas.
Minister Pandor said the agency was seeking to strengthen its position
by leveraging the power of synergies and by applying multiple policy instruments.
These include seed funding, specialised funding and its technology stations.
TIA’s seed fund was established in 2013 to assist universities and start-ups to commercialise ideas
and Minister Pandor said there were two seed funding lines in operation – one aimed at universities and another one for regional innovation agencies.
So far R73 million has been invested in 173 projects across 20 universities and colleges,
and about R33 million in 74 projects in partnerships with seven regional innovation agencies,
with these organisations co-investing about R30 million.
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