The Innovation Builder Fund (IBF) was started in 2019, with a mandate to develop UCT research projects where initial proof of concept has been demonstrated. The Fund intends to support projects assessed to be commercially viable, where research outputs have either been protected ot have protectable intellectual property (IP).

The Fund plays and important role in the UCT RC&I funding eco-system where early-stage projects can be incubated by de-risking fundamental development and technological risks to better understand the commercial potential of the opportunity.

The application process for the IBF is in two stages involving an Expression of Interest (EoI) followed by a Full Funding Application if the EoI gate is passed.

Qualifying applicants are current UCT members of staff and postgraduate student as well as existing UCT incubated projects or spin-out companies where the university has the right to commercialise the IP.


Funding of up to R500 000 per project will be considered, over a maximum project duration of 12 months. The funds are provided by UCT, and applicants are urged to budget frugally and optimise the facility to ensure maximum commercial outputs. Eligible activities include:

  • Demonstrating proof of concept (note that this assumes some level of proof of concept has been achieved using research funding).
  • Product, process (comprehensive technology package) and prototype development.
  • Production of market samples and/or associated testing, analytical data and method development and specification sheet development.
  • Refining and implementing designs.
  • Conducting field trials.
  • Support of certification activities.
  • Piloting and scale-up and techno-economic evaluation.
  • Detailed primary market research, or specialist consulting to assess market potential.
  • Techno-economic, financial analysis of business/revenue model and/or business plan development.

Where required, these activities may be outsourced to a service provider who should be identified in the proposal.

  • No GOB staff salaries or student bursaries may be supported by the fund. A student may, however, be employed to conduct project tasks.
  • Faculty overheads.
  • Funding should not replace research funding.
  • Computer equipment will require specific motivation and it is not the intention of the fund to support the purchase of personal computing equipment.
  • Conference expenses will generally not be supported and should not be included within a budget unless special motivation has been provided to showcase a prototype or technology to gain market/ user feedback.

A call for applications will be made in the third quarter of 2023. The call for Expression of Interest opens  on 06 September 2023 and closes on 25 September 2023. For more information on the fund or the call for expressions of interest, please contact Innovation Projects Coordinator, Mpho Baisitse .