Stellenbosch University's vision to be Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, a place where knowledge is advanced in service of society, is set to receive a major boost. This is thanks to a new world-class innovation hub to be established on 30 hectares of land that were recently donated to the University by the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate (Pty) Ltd.
The land donated is located in the Cape Winelands region of Klapmuts and forms part of 253 hectares of land owned by the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate; this land will be the site for the newly planned Stellenbosch Smart City development. Mr Jaap du Toit, in his capacity as chairperson and shareholder of the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate (the developer of this 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 the investment management company the PSG Group and PSG Konsult.
The Stellenbosch Municipality sees 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," SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said.
“We are particularly pleased about this donation as it is in line with our recently adopted Strategic Framework. It will help us to build a thriving Stellenbosch University and offer a transformative student experience, among other things.
“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 relevant and appropriate supporting infrastructure.
Ms Anita Nel, Chief Director of Innovation at SU and Director of Innovus, said that although projects to utilise this area were still in the planning stages, the first order of business was likely to be to establish an innovation hub with conference facilities. “We aim to offer alternative space on the designated SU land for the 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. “Our focus is on the entrepreneurs themselves and helping them to build a viable business through coaching and mentorship programmes. We support new businesses and foster a culture of entrepreneurship to entrepreneurs wishing to grow their businesses," Nel added.
Said Du Toit: “Stellenbosch University started 100 years ago with a donation by Jan H Marais. 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.
“The University is bursting at its seams on its Stellenbosch campus, and an innovation satellite node will make a wonderful contribution. We believe that this donation will put the University on a path to establish a world-class node of innovation, which over time will also be able to serve more students."
The Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate will elaborate and provide more details regarding its vision for the Stellenbosch Smart City in a follow-up media announcement.
- Photo: Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, and Mr Jaap du Toit, chairperson and shareholder of the Stellenbosch Wine and Country Estate