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Change the world


Propella, an initiative aimed at supporting and developing businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay, was officially launched at its new premises in Walmer Boulevard, South End last night.

Innovolve, the wholly owned commercialisation company of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and Engeli Enterprise Development (EDD), a private sector business support company, joined forces to establish Propella after a need was identified for an incubator to support and stimulate technology-based innovation companies.

"There is a real need to support and grow local manufacturing businesses.  The NMMU has a number of new innovative companies that need support but the need is broader than the NMMU and that is where Propella plays a role,” says Jaci Barnett, Director of Innovation at the NMMU and CEO of Innovolve.

Propella’s main areas of focus will be renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and related technologies and advanced manufacturing. According to Wayne Oosthuizen, Managing Director of EDD, the development focus is on the entrepreneurs more than the technology or the business.

“Technologies and opportunities come and go according to product life cycles, but if a true entrepreneur can be developed, there is business longevity,” said Oosthuizen.

Furthermore the initiative aims to develop expertise in how to access finance, market access, business support and mentorship, human capital development and support in technology and innovation. “We will focus on a model of incubate, accelerate and graduate,” said Oosthuizen.

Propella will also support creative arts and textile entrepreneurs from a satellite incubator on the NMMU’s Bird Street premises, in the heart of Port Elizabeth’s newly developing cultural precinct.  Many of the challenges experienced by new creative arts businesses are the same as for manufacturing businesses.

Businesses will go through a rigorous selection process to qualify for access to Propella and its support services, which includes the provision of offices, mini assembly/manufacturing areas, comprehensive ICT infrastructure, accounting services, secretarial services and technical business support Oosthuizen added.

Funded by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for the first three years of operation, Propella will also receive financial support from the NMMU, EED and local corporates, including General Motors South Africa (GMSA).