If you’ve come across “Area 51 raid” or saw the phrase trending all over social media this past weekend, you might be wondering what’s…
Four startups incubated at Cape Town based hardware tech incubator Savant have secured seed grants totalling over R2.5-million from the incubator’s seed fund partner — the government’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).
Savant CEO Nick Allen (pictured above) yesterday (6 December) told Ventureburn that the four — ATTRI Orthopaedics, Energy Shift, Jonga and Global Energy — received seed grants worth R580 000, R649 000, R654 000 and 641 000, respectively.
He said the first tranche of the funding would be transferred to the startups between either yesterday and today (7 December).
Cape Town based ATTRI Orthopaedics develops lightweight, state-of-the-art metallic implants that replace skeletal structures damaged from bone tumours, trauma, or infections.
In all, the four startups received seed grants worth R2 524 000 from Savant’s seed fund partner – the Technology Innovation Agency
Energy Shift has developed a solution that reduces the temperature of photovoltaic (PV) cells (solar panels) and in doing so makes them more efficient, all while generating hot water for either industrial or home use.
Jonga has developed a home monitoring security system which uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Stellenbosch-based Global Energy designs, engineers and manages onsite biogas energy projects for waste producers with outputs that start at 20 kilowatts.
‘Numbers are quite small’
Allen explained that the incubator’s seed fund investment committee had selected the four and had then passed their names on to TIA for approval.
“We’re very happy that all the companies that we’ve so far put forward have been approved by TIA,” he added.
Allen however acknowledged that the seed grants were “small” given that these are hardware startups require a significant amount of money for research and development.
“To be honest the quantums for what we are doing are actually quite small. We are building hardware stuff. Hardware takes money. At the same time you see what these guys do with small amounts of money and its quite remarkable. But ultimately, the numbers are quite small,” he said.
‘Savant venture fund to launch close to being finalised’
In October, Allen told Ventureburn that the incubator was considering setting up a venture fund which he said at the time would likely be launched in the first quarter of 2019.
Responding to Ventureburn questions on how advanced the fund was, Allen said Savant was “getting there” and that the fund was still on track to be launched “latest January”.
“We may get that before then… but yeah, we are very close to getting that finalised,” he explained.
He would not “confirm or deny” whether the fund was one of the organisations listed by SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan last month that would receive a capital injection from the R1.4-billion fund which currently draws contributions from commitments made by 48 JSE-listed companies.
Gordhan today however confirmed to Ventureburn that the fund is in discussions with Savant.
“The only thing I am able to confirm at this stage due to ongoing processes, is that Savant is subject to signing legal agreements being allocated funding from the SA SME Fund,” he said.
Read more: SA SME Fund in new mandate to invest over R1bn in black small firms, startups
Read more: Hardware technology incubator Savant looking at setting up venture fund
Read more: SA incubator Savant in process of raising funding for 11 tech companies [Q&A]
*Ventureburn editor Stephen Timm assisted in writing this article.
Featured image: Savant CEO Nick Allen