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KZNROTT - Copyright © 2016 - All Rights Reserved


The KwaZulu-Natal Regional Office of Technology Transfer (KZNR-OTT) is an office funded by the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) to support technology transfer in four tertiary institutions in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, namely: University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), University of Zululand (UZ) and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) (the “Regional Institutions”). The KZNROTT supports the Regional Institutions to identify, protect and commercialise intellectual property that emanate from research and development.


We support our Regional Institutions through offering both operational and strategic support services of technology transfer. Our operational services include case-by-case consultative support throughout the tech transfer value chain, including conducting intellectual property, market and commercial case evaluations for invention or technology disclosures. Afterwards, we offer legal, intellectual property and commercial support to see the inventions or technologies through to successful commercialisation, including drafting and reviewing of transaction specific agreements, as well as compiling business plans for new ventures created.


The strategic role of the KZNROTT includes the creation of partnerships (business and non-business) within triple-helix stakeholders (tertiary institutions, government institutions and industry) in commercialisation of technologies from the Regional Institutions.










Ideation / Basic Research - TRL 1 -2

Technology readiness level 1-2, refers to early stages of research and development in addressing a certain problem statement. A research dissertations, thesis and research papers are typically the outputs that emanate from this stage of research and development.


Our support in this stage mainly concerns reviewing of research dissertations, thesis and research papers, where a research student and/or supervisor believe that the outcome of their research and development work may be commercially viable. We conduct a quick intellectual property (IP), commercial and market overview to confirm if the reviewed work would be worth IP protection or any commercial undertaking. At this stage, we provide the researchers with disclosure forms to fill in regarding contemplated works we have reviewed and found to be protectable and/or commercially viable, in order to initiate IP protection and commercialization.

Early Lab Proof of Concept TRL 3

Technology Readiness Level 3 is a stage where an experiments regarding an innovative or invented idea are conducted at laboratory scale.  Equipment audit, process analysis and proof of concept are performed at during this stage. Upon experimental completion systems tests are conducted in a controlled platform.


By this stage, the KZN ROTT or the university tech transfer office would have received the full disclosure form filled in by the inventor/researcher. Upon receiving the disclosure form, we conduct an in-depth IP, commercial, and market analysis and generate reports thereof.  If the invention is protectable by a patent, we liaise with attorneys to file a provisional patent application.   Filing the provisional patent  application can cost between R15 000 and R35 000, and the provisional patent application grants the invention priority over others for 12 months, a period which allows  for further development of the invention before filing a full patent/PCT application.

Late Lab Proof of Concept TRL 4

TRL 4 is the first step in determining whether the individual components will work together as a system. The laboratory system will probably be a mix of on hand equipment and a few special purpose components that may require special handling, calibration, or alignment to get them to function. The basic technological components are integrated to establish that the pieces will work together.


There are several grant funding schemes available for this stage that the inventors can apply for, including the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Seed Fund, Technology Development Fund, or KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Technology Transfer Fund.

Validation / Trials / System Robustness

In Technology Readiness Level 5 trials, subsystem validation and robustness are conducted in the relevant environment that is outside the controlled environment.  This level is important and precedes system demonstration. The major difference between TRL 4 and 5 is the increase in the reliability of the system and environment to the actual application. The system tested is almost prototypical


At this stage, KZNROTT facilitates the patent corporation treaty (PCT) application, which is a process that can take up to 30 months to generate an international search report.   The fees for PCT filling can amount to R 60 000.   TRL 5 is also supported financially by TIA through the SEED Fund or the Technology Development Fund, therefore researchers can apply for this type of funding at this stage.

Early & late Prototype

In Technology Readiness Level 6-7 a prototype at pilot (engineering) scale is developed and it undergoes system demonstration in the relevant operational environment. If the technology is reliable and performs, it may undergo product certification to assure quality and safety being tested and qualified by a national body like the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Lastly, manuals, specification, and manufacturing methods are formally recorded and created.


TRL 6 begins true engineering development of the technology as an operational system. The major difference between TRL 5 and 6 is the step up from laboratory scale to engineering scale and the determination of scaling factors that will enable design of the operating system. The prototype should be capable of performing all the functions that will be required of the operational system. The operating environment for the testing should closely represent the actual operating environment. TRL 7 succeeds TRL6 by the true demonstration of the actual system in a relevant (realistic) environment.


TRL 6 is also supported financially by TIA through the SEED Fund or the Technology Development Fund.   Based on the outcome of the PCT international search report, the IP may proceed to national phase which can amount to fees of about R70 000 to R120 000.

Early Commercialisation

In Technology Readiness Level 8-9, the technology is operated in a full operational environment and it is ready for market application. This level can be regarded as early commercialisation and market application. The product is manufactured and distributed to the relevant market channels.


In TRL 8, the technology has been proven to work in its final form and under expected conditions. In almost all cases, this TRL represents the end of true system development. Examples include developmental testing and evaluation of the system with actual waste in hot commissioning. At TRL9, the technology is in its final form and operated under the full range of operating conditions


The applicable funding that a researcher can apply for at this stage is the TIA, Technology Development Fund or the Commercialisation Fund.




Get in touch...

We are open five days a week please feel free to call. Our office hours are 08:00 - 16:30 Monday to Friday.

(031) 260 1567


Gate 9, Rick Turner Road
Room 200 Innovation Centre
University of KwaZulu Natal Howard College

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