/ 25 August 2011

Help at hand: Invo Tech at DUT

Have a bright idea that could be marketable but don’t know where to begin? Entrepreneurs and innovators will welcome the launch of Invo Tech at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) this week, a programme that offers business support, skills development and university brainpower.

In partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), DUT has established an “innovation incubator”, which it launched on Tuesday.

The programme aims to attract small, medium and micro enterprises with new innovations to set up their business operations at Invo Tech and will charge only a minimal fee for shared resources. Virtual clients will not pay anything.

The Invo Tech team “will provide specialised guidance in respect of funding and business development as well as technical advice”, said Deven Reddy, incubator manager for Invo Tech.

Access to the university community
The incubator’s association with DUT will allow tenants and virtual businesses to have access to specialised mentors from the different faculties within the university community.

Invo Tech’s clients include companies that produce cleaning detergents, energy drinks, a waterless carwash and a board game that helps dentistry students study.

The director of DUT’s Enterprise Development Unit, Colin Thakur, said he personally uses one of Invo Tech’s client’s patented, unique products — an outdoor flytrap.

“I have one of these things. I have litchi trees in my garden and I now have litchis for much longer in the season because of this thing,” he quipped.

Invo Tech will provide business skills development and access to national and international business networks as well as to financial institutions with preferential negotiated finance. It will also provide support with tenders and proposals, assistance with management of financial records and other legislative company requirements, and access to consultants and technical expertise at preferential negotiated rates.

Shared resources
On a physical level Invo Tech provides air-conditioned office space in a corporate business environment, high-speed bandwidth, access to telephone lines, a boardroom, meeting rooms and the use of a shared receptionist and front desk.

Facilities like these provide a space to rapidly test out new ideas, in practice, with quick assessments, Reddy said.

DUT’s vice-chancellor, Professor Ahmed Bawa, said at the launch that “for us to grow and evolve as individuals and to be successful in business we need to constantly reimagine the future”.

“Our time span for this deliberation has been shortened because of the pace of change — 80% of all scientists that have ever lived are living today! Think about that. So while we are carried by the waves of technology we must also think strategically with a wide-angle lens that allows us to reimagine the future. Invo Tech is a part of this long view — this ability to reach strategically into the future,” Bawa said.