Technological Higher Education Network South Africa (THENSA) – Piloting an adapted venture builder model for accelerating technology innovation and commercialisation within Universities of Technology


THENSA represents the collective voice of the Universities of Technology (UoTs) in South Africa. Their key focus is on promoting and advancing Science, Engineer, Arts and Technology Programmes for the world of work.

How the RISA Fund grant will be used

The project aims to bring together innovators within the technology focused sector and strategically selected public and private sector partners (funders, investors and innovators) to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem. This will be implemented using an adapted venture builder model designed to accelerate innovation through interventions tailored around a set of key drivers of spin-off success:

  • Functional technology innovation; Suitably skilled technopreneurial teams; cogent, scalable business models and acquisition of investment finance.

The VBA model is directed at systemmatically producing new companies, which will also help grow and support – a key feature of any tech ecosystem.

Collaborations among nine previously disadvantaged universities in South Africa; and between funders and innovators. Through involvement in a range of innovation related projects, THENSA has a role and mandate to inform the national science, technology and innovation (STI) policy and regulation. THENSA will serve a key facilitatory and observer role in the project, with the intention of feeding learnings from the project into policy discussions around technology innovation and commercialisation within the higher education sector and country as a whole.