The Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) funds designers, inventors, entrepreneurs and product developers with pre-revenue innovative technologies and tech-enabled ideas and products. These individuals/ businesses are not able to easily raise funds, from either traditional banks or funding agencies, due to the high risk associated with early-stage innovation.
The DISF was established in 2013 through a collaboration between the Technology Innovation Agency and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Province.
This seed funding helps recipients understand the opportunities that exist, by supporting them in the design and prototype building phase as well as by assisting them to validate assumptions they’ve made, around the technical and market-related challenges that they face. Successful applicants receive a range of support including, financial and non-financial support, business development support and access to physical space, equipment and resources to prototype the innovations.
The recipients also receive grant funding of between R500 000 and R800 000, based on the financing that they require. Between 2017 and 2021, the DISF provided grant funding to 20 innovators.
swiftVEE, a good example of a DISF supported project, is South Africa’s first livestock and agricultural digital trading platform. It aims to solve several livestock trading inefficiencies in the industry, by assisting livestock agencies and farmers to sell more efficiently.
swiftVEE received international recognition for their technological innovation. In 2019, they won a United Nations award for agri-tech sustainability and a TT100 award for the best technology company; providing sustainability through agri-tech in the small business category.
In July, a new call for applications was issued for the DISF where – designers, inventors, entrepreneurs and product developers with pre-revenue innovations could apply for grant funding of up to R800 000.
The project is aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure).
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