Startup incubator the Cortex Hub is set to launch in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, with the two-year programme aiming to build multi-million rand businesses.
In an interview with Disrupt Africa, Matshego Koza of Cortex Hub said the idea to launch the incubator was prompted by the need for an ICT-based organisation aimed at empowering entrepreneurs to use technology to solve the socio-economic challenges in the Eastern Cape region.
“Our purpose then became to create an enabling environment for these innovators ensuring that we activate, nurture, support and develop a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem within the Eastern Cape (EC) region,” Koza told Disrupt Africa.
Unusually for accelerator programmes, the Cortex Hub model will last for two years, which Matshego says will allow the incubator to provide more in-depth assistance in scaling the participating startups to successful businesses.
“The Hub will incubate entrepreneurs, taking them all the way from the ideation phase through to establishing multi-million rand businesses,” Koza said.
“Accelerators normally take on this task, focusing on the pre-incubation phase in which they help entrepreneurs to define their ideas, find their market and start designing their product. Incubators take this further in taking businesses with existing ideas and helping them scale,” she said.
“The Cortex Hub has the expertise to bridge of these; helping entrepreneurs define their ideas, find a market, design their product, bridge to larger – and even international – markets and create the business infrastructure they need in order to make their organization successful.”
Throughout the programme, the selected startups will receive business and technical training, mentorship, guidance and business coaching from the hub’s advisory board, workspace, and access to a network of investors.
The hub will not directly provide financing, but will connect startups with investors and entrepreneurs, through partnerships with other established incubators.
Throughout the two-year programme, Cortex Hub startups will work together with – and visit – players in the USA’s Silicon Valley – intended to allow the startups to learn from the established community there.
“There is no doubt that there are great opportunities in South Africa within its growing tech ecosystem. The sole aim of partnering with companies and accelerators in the Valley is to create a channel with an established international community with which we are able to learn, exchange ideas, knowledge and trends that will add value our businesses,” Koza said.
The first round of applications for the incubator closed at the start of December, with applications to open again in early 2015 to accommodate a second intake of startups.
Cortex Hub said applications are encouraged from potential entrepreneurs with business ideas who reside in the Eastern Cape region, and also from university students and graduates – with a focus on ICT and engineering based subjects.