Stellenbosch University to set up new innovation hub

26th March 2019 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Stellenbosch University to set up new innovation hub

Wim de Villiers and Jaap du Toit

Stellenbosch University (SU) is to establish a new innovation hub on 30 ha of land that have been donated to the tertiary institution by the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate.

The land is in the Cape Winelands region of Klapmuts and forms part of 253 ha of land owned by the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate. The land will be the site for what is called the Stellenbosch Smart City development.

Jaap du Toit, in his capacity as chairperson and shareholder of the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate – and the developer of Smart City – was instrumental in making this donation possible.

Du Toit, who graduated with a BAcc degree from SU in 1976, is also one of the founders of investment management company the PSG Group and PSG Konsult.

The Stellenbosch municipality views the Klapmuts area as an important development node for the region over the next few decades.

“This wonderful gesture by the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate is testament to the trust that is placed in the future of Maties as we enter our second century as a university,” says SU rector and vice-chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers.

“Mr Du Toit is a loyal alumnus of the university, and this is both a magnificent and magnanimous gift to his alma mater. We appreciate it deeply and are very excited about the possibilities that it has opened up.”

According to a memorandum of understanding between the university and the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate, SU may develop the area for tertiary instruction; facilities supporting tertiary instruction; sports and recreational facilities; facilities supporting the commercialisation of any knowledge and/or know-how owned or co-owned by SU or licensed to SU; arts and culture, such as an amphitheatre; and/or relevant and appropriate supporting infrastructure.

SU chief innovation director Anita Nel says although projects to use the donated land are still in the planning stages, the first order of business is likely to be the establishment of an innovation hub with conference facilities.

“We aim to offer alternative space for startups outgrowing the space within the University’s LaunchLab business incubator.”

The Nedbank-Stellenbosch University LaunchLab, a subsidiary company of Innovus, is a startup incubator that aims to build a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Africa.

“Stellenbosch University started 100 years ago with a donation by Jan H Marais,” notes Du Toit. “In line with history, we believe and trust that this donation will give SU the opportunity to grow for the next 100 years and further expand tertiary education.”