The LaunchLab: A Year in Review

The LaunchLab: A Year in Review

Events, programmes, awards. These are just a few of the things that made 2018 such an amazing year for us at the LaunchLab.

The LaunchLab is a secure place for viable start-ups to incubate as they grow, and where valuable connections can also be made. It is where innovators like Custos can discuss prototype ideas with CubeSpace, where BridgIot can rub shoulders with Teambix, but, we are so much more than a shared workspace, boardrooms and free internet, and this year we have done some incredible things. This is a (humble) recap of our 2018.

If you have heard of Grindstone, you know it is the country’s top accelerator run by growth equity investment firm, Knife Capital. Grindstone 4 kicked off with 2 LaunchLab companies in their cohort, adding to the 3 LaunchLab companies already in their cohort 3. These are:

  • Vizibiliti Insight who won the award for best Customer Experience Transformation in Digital and a pilot with Verizon in the US;
  • Sxuirrel who was voted the top Student Startup in South Africa; and
  • Custos who was named the best Blockchain Application in Africa by AppsAfrica.

While our companies were winning awards, we had 29 others leave the nest, as they started out on their own. They were replaced with 35 new businesses, who have found their new home within the LaunchLab walls. Notably, LaunchLab companies were responsible for 65 direct job creations this year.

In the past 12 months LaunchLab companies raised R16 million in risk capital which is no mean feat. This is one of the reasons we were able to establish ourselves as the leading university incubator on the African continent! But it is not the only reason...

A large part of our mandate is to connect start-ups and entrepreneurs with industry In 2018 we ran corporate programmes with Nation Builder (part of the Mergon investment group), Santam, Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Winetech and we wrapped up a previous programme with ATTACQ. All of these generated a significant amount of interest in our methodology and our residents, as well as solving some critical problems for the industries involved. We also launched 12 pilot programs with our corporate partners.

In addition, we have been recognised for the contribution we are making to the country. This year we were formally given the ‘Top Challenge – Africa’ award by University Business Incubators Global (UBI) at their global summit in Toronto, Canada, where hundreds of other university-linked incubators gathered to share best practices and see what international opportunities they could leverage for their companies.

2018 was also the year we established ourselves as a leader in the local ecosystem by being invited in to assist on three separate projects: we advised the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) on their commercial and market readiness initiatives for their technologies, we shared our experience with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to help them commercialise more of their own technologies, and we are helping to lead a task team to promote immigration reform in a way that would benefit the start-up ecosystem.

It has been a busy and eventful year and we are proud of the work our companies are doing as they continually strive to make the coming year an even better one than the year we leave behind.