As small businesses pursue efficiency and better ways of serving customers, blockchain can be especially useful for these companies as a way to conduct transactions and even raise capital. For example, a business could adopt blockchain technology to simply accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment.
In light of this, the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), in collaboration with CV VC AG (Crypto Valley Venture Capital), an investment company based in Zurich, Switzerland, announced the creation of the blockchain ecosystem, a program that will disperse working capital to assist African start-ups that develop products and services based on blockchain technology.
The fund aims to support up to 100 African startups, and this will include setting up incubation hubs, mentorship and investment opportunities. The joint project aims to support the development of an independent ecosystem in South Africa by transferring the know-how and experience from Swiss Crypto Valley to serve as a hub for Africa.
Blockchain is one of the technology megatrends of the future, with independent consultants forecasting that its business value-add will reach a staggering USD 3.1 trillion by 2030. CV VC will invest $11 million over the next 4 years. The fund is currently supporting 4 start-ups based on the continent.
One of the strategic thrusts of the University of Johannesburg is to lead Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In order to fulfil its vision of driving the university's industry 4.0 initiatives, IIS operates through three main facets - academic development, strategic research, and enterprise development. In its academic facet, the institute deals with the development of multidisciplinary taught and online programs for postgraduate qualification and continuing professional development, for the purpose of capacity building in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, Internet of Things (IoT) etc. The institute is starting a Master of Artificial Intelligence programme in 2022.
Wesley Doorsamy, an Associate Professor and researcher at UJ’s IIS, says Blockchain is rich with possibilities. “This is a proposed solution for small businesses in the e-commerce space for supply chain management, energy trading and much more. We are striving to involve more young people in this exciting space, so that they can develop the technical and entrepreneurial skills necessary to go out and innovate.”
Prof Doorsamy explains that the blockchain initiative will foster innovations in the design, use, ethics, and regulation of decentralized, blockchain-based technologies. “The future looks promising for start-ups that are looking to implement blockchain for better speed and security at lower costs.”
UJ also hosts the Coronet Blockchain Research & Innovation Chair in Blockchain for the African Continent, which is currently held by Prof Nnamdi Nwulu. The chair is financed at USD 250, 000 for a period of three years.
Issued by UJ