Search on for as­pir­ing young in­no­va­tors

The Herald (South Africa) - - BUSINESS - Odette Parfitt parfitto@ti­soblack­star.co.za

A PORT El­iz­a­beth busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor has launched its search for the Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro’s bright­est in­no­va­tors to be groomed as tech en­trepreneurs.

The Pro­pella Busi­ness In­cu­ba­tor, which houses the Telkom Fu­ture­mak­ers hub in the Bay, is wel­com­ing ap­pli­ca­tions with busi­ness ideas to the Fu­ture­mak­ers pro­gramme for as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs.

The online ap­pli­ca­tion says only par­tic­i­pants based in the Bay are el­i­gi­ble – while par­tic­i­pat­ing busi­nesses also need to be more than 51% black-owned.

“[Other than that], the def­i­ni­tions of the pro­gramme are quite broad,” Er­rol Wills, re­cently ap­pointed as ad­vi­sor in in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies (ICT) for Pro­pella, said.

“Es­sen­tially, Telkom wants to cre­ate fu­ture sup­pli­ers for the com­pany through the pro­gramme, which is why the ideas [should also re­late to] busi­ness-to-busi­ness trade.”

Pos­si­ble cat­e­gories for the ap­pli­ca­tions in­clude soft­ware, cell­phone apps, eCom­merce and net­work­ing.

Wills said busi­ness own­ers and as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs had un­til Oc­to­ber 1 to ap­ply, af­ter which the top 40 ap­pli­ca­tions would be sin­gled out.

Each ap­pli­cant will then present their idea to a panel.

“About 20 peo­ple will then be se­lected to un­dergo eight weeks of train­ing, in­clud­ing con­tent around how to struc­ture a busi­ness pitch and present their prod­ucts.

“Af­ter the eight weeks, each will make a pre­sen­ta­tion in mid-De­cem­ber to a panel, which will in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Telkom.”

The list will fi­nally be nar­rowed down to 10 en­trepreneurs, who will be­come the new in­cu­ba­tees of the Fu­ture­mak­ers pro­gramme.

“There are al­ready in­cu­ba­tees in this pro­gramme [from pre­vi­ous years] and they have to reap­ply to be con­sid­ered for next year’s in­take,” Wills said.

“How­ever, that does not nec­es­sar­ily mean they [lose our sup­port] if they are not cho­sen to con­tinue within the Fu­ture­mak­ers struc­ture.”

Aside from Fu­ture­mak­ers, Pro­pella also aims to im­prove the re­la­tion­ships be­tween in­dus­try and the Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity.

“Pro­pella has just launched a sur­vey of Nel­son Man­dela Bay’s top 50 com­pa­nies re­gard­ing their [tech­no­log­i­cal] needs,” Wills said.

“The idea is to cre­ate projects where busi­nesses need de­liv­ery of some­thing spe­cific – with the Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity’s rep­utable fac­ulty of com­puter sci­ences to sup­ply [skilled peo­ple].

“In this way, we are po­ten­tially kick-start­ing smaller busi­nesses, start­ing with in­dus­try de­mand [and cre­at­ing skills], so grad­u­ates can gain and re­tain spe­cific in­dus­try knowl­edge.”

As­pir­ing in­no­va­tors can ap­ply to the Fu­ture­mak­ers pro­gramme of Pro­pella at http://pro­pel­lain­cu­ba­tor.co.za

Pic­ture: BRIAN WITBOOI

BUSI­NESS SAVVY: Pro­pella ICT ad­viser Er­rol Wills and ad­min­is­tra­tor Mara Ja­cobs view the work on the Fu­ture­mak­ers pro­gramme web­site

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