The University Technology Fund (UTF) is the first fund of its kind for the African continent. It was initially established by the SA SME Fund in its endeavour to partner with South African universities to commercialise the technologies and business concepts arising from these institutions. Stocks & Strauss was appointed as the fund manager for the UTF.
The UTF will fund projects that possess tenable patents, prototypes and Intellectual Property originating from South African universities.
South Africa has an extremely strong research base between higher education institutions and science councils with publication rates comparable to global norms. Billions are allocated annually to the 26 public universities in South Africa yet extremely few start-ups or commercial licences are created. This primarily results due to the following challenges:
Adequate funding from Pre-Seed through to Series Seed and Series-A funding (commercialisation capital and follow on Venture Capital).
Commercial and financial acumen, and experience of the researchers, scientists, inventors and founders.
Access to networks and the ability to build high-functioning teams.
The UTF is a venture builder established to bridge the gaps highlighted above.
Fund Mission and Objectives
The primary business objective of the UTF is to commercialise technology from SA Universities.
This can be translated into the following key objectives:
- Commercial return for UTF investors
- Proving South Africa University technology as a viable and sustainable asset class – thereby driving further local and international investment
- Retention of intellectual property, royalties and taxes in South Africa – creation and retention of value in South Africa
- Retention, and attracting talent to South Africa and South African Universities
- Job creation and skills development in South Africa – key objective to create and develop jobs and skills within SA
- Elevating the reputation and brand of South African Universities globally
Investment into early stage technology projects, opportunities or spin-out companies originating from South African Universities in the following stages:
- Pipeline development (Pre-Seed and Seed):
- being projects or entities which require funding for technology development and pre-commercialisation support
- Commercialisation and early stage VC (Series Seed and Series A):
- Series Seed Investments, being projects or entities, which are ready for and require the first round of equity (or equity like) funding; and
- Series A Investments, being projects or entities, which are in the post revenue growth phase and which target traditional venture capital investors
- Sector and individual opportunity limits exist