UP tech business incubator TuksNovation honours innovative start-ups at Activate Challenge Awards

Posted on June 21, 2019

The Activate Challenge Awards were recently hosted by TuksNovation, a University of Pretoria (UP) incubator that provides world-class technology development and entrepreneurial support to start-ups, from the prototype to commercialisation stages, to ensure that the technology addresses a relevant need.

The challenge was launched in 2018 as an annual competition that searches for cutting-edge tech start-ups that have commercial potential. Supported by various stakeholders, including AFGRI Technology Services, Adams & Adams Attorneys and the Department of Small Business Development, the awards are open to students from UP and the Gordon Institute of Business Science, as well as alumni, staff and network partners.

Start-ups from various sectors that utilise Fourth Industrial Revolution technology entered the Activate Challenge in the hope of winning eight months of business incubation or acceleration by TuksNovation and a R10 000 cash prize. “This year’s awards theme focused on Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, including AgriTech,” said Anéa Burke le Roux, centre manager at TuksNovation. “On this journey, we have collaborated with AFGRI Technology Services as there were strong synergies in terms of AFGRI’s focus areas: AgriTech, AgriFinTech and FoodTech.”

Prof Tawana Kupe and the attendees 

Umoya Technologies took the number one spot, and Deep Liquids and SR Snacks were also given the nod. The runner-ups will each receive three months of incubation at TuksNovation with the support of AFGRI.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said new technology has enhanced the quality of research and learning, and has ensured that the university stays at the forefront of knowledge.

“UP aspires to have a triangle alliance: critical knowledge and critical thinking; innovation; and entrepreneurship,” he said. “It is unsurprising that TuksNovation is thriving, and will continue to thrive, because we have identified that holy trinity. It leverages innovative thinking that the best traditional university represents – new energies for new times. We train students to be ready for work and for others to become entrepreneurs and employers.” 

The establishment of TuksNovation was an inevitable step in UP’s vision to be a leading entrepreneurial university that provides an environment where innovators can flourish. “It has been a fantastic journey,” said Burke le Roux. “We look forward to the next chapter of the partnership in which we will work together to help the winning team commercialise its innovation.”

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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