Seed Fund

To assist innovators at higher education institutions and SMMEs to advance their research outputs and ideas to develop prototypes, proof of concept and business cases that could be used for further development.

De-risk research outputs for follow on funding from TIA and/ or other funders

Funding parameters

  • Eligible applicants will work through the relevant Seed Fund Partner.
  • Grant funding up to R 500 000 per application.
  • Governance model
  • Partner-based Management Committee decide to fund the project and which conditions are attached to the award
  • Partners ensures there is audit trail, project monitoring and evaluation


  • Access to finance at a high risk stage
  • SMMEs develop and grow asset base
  • Quick turnaround for funding: 2 months
  • Network of service providers
  • Knowledge sharing between institutions, consultants, service providers
  • Growing the NSI network

Higher Education Institution

  • To fund University and Science Council – linked innovators and entrepreneurs
  • Outcomes of basic research
  • Supports the intended impact of the IPR Act
  • Contracted partnership with every HEI (through TTO and RO)

Fundable activities

  • Initial proof of concept
  • Prototype development
  • Sourcing of IP opinions
  • Production of market samples
  • Refining and implementing designs
  • Conducting field studies
  • Support of certification activities
  • Piloting and scale-up and techno-economic evaluation
  • Detailed primary market research
  • Business Plan Development

Technology Transfer Offices manage the funds with involvement of Seed Fund Committee. Staff employed by higher education institutions cannot be paid and no bursaries or employment of students is permitted, except for defined project hours. The programme allows for human capacity development.

Regional Seed Fund Programme

TIA implements the Regional Seed Fund programme to enable and support technological innovation and entrepreneurship among qualifying SMMEs based in the various Provinces of South Africa. This Programme is implemented in collaboration with regional partner agencies with which TIA has entered into Memoranda of Agreement specifically to implement the Programme. TIA provides funding and partner institutions provide non-financial and incubation support to recipients. Qualifying SMMEs applicants work through the relevant Seed Fund Partner based in Province.

Fundable Activities

  • Business Plan Development;
  • Prototype development and evaluating prototypes against customer requirements;
  • Turning prototypes into pre-production products (scale up and piloting);
  • Detailed primary market research;
  • Activities leading to technology co-development;
  • Licensing of technology to manufacturers and for distribution;
  • Transfer of technology for development and manufacture;
  • Design development and support of certification activities through SABS or equivalent;
  • Purchase of hardware for scale-up from prototypes; and
  • Supporting IP protection maintenance costs.

Exclusions: working capital and human resource costs except with software development - human capacity needed for project duration.

Assessment Criteria and Requirements

  • Stage of business: pre-revenue, revenue generating
  • Valid tax clearance certificate: Personal (pre-incorporated company) and/ or business
  • Can demonstrate clear customer need and/ can demonstrate market potential.
  • Because of high risk, would not qualify for funding from traditional banks or
  • Project plan has to align with funding activities
  • Potential to create competitive new intellectual property

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Contact our Business Unit

Dyoni Fisher - Coordinator