UCT Evergreen Fund

Many UCT inventions with great social and commercial promise never get off the ground because of the lack of seed funding. For this reason the UCT Evergreen Fund was created. It provides an opportunity for UCT’s Alumni and Friends network to support the development of UCT’s technologies to turn novel ideas into marketable products with value to society. The short term objective is to raise R10 million for this initiative.


The Evergreen Fund is a tool to catalyse research collaborations that strengthens the research enterprise of the University and brings economic benefit to South Africa. The fund provides resources to outstanding researchers working in areas that are of relevance to South Africa at a social and economic level. It is hoped that this would enable the growth of networks, especially university to industry, such that we can broaden the reach of the University in South Africa and beyond.


The intent of the program is therefore to provide seed funding to researchers to help position them for larger and longer-term investment. Consequently, it is also a goal of the program to help create partnerships with industry.


UCT academics and graduates have been innovators in almost every discipline imaginable. These include Chris Barnard, whose pioneering heart transplant changed the narrative of medical history, and a number of Nobel Laureates, such as Max Theiler, who developed a vaccine against yellow fever; Allan Cormack who developed the CAT scanner; and Aaron Klug who contributed to the development of crystallographic electron microscopy and furthered knowledge of nucleic acid protein complexes.


A donation by Mr Richard Sonnenburg in 1987 forms the core of the Evergreen Fund. Richard Sonnenberg along with his father, Max was a co-founder of Woolworths in Cape Town in 1931. In 1942, Max bought the Diemersfontein fruit farm in Wellington as a family retreat. Diemersfontein has remained in the Sonnenberg family and become a top wine farm under Richard’s son David and his wife Susan. According to David, Richard was passionate about inventing things. One of his formative influences was the beginnings of the era of early industrial parks and the concept of industrial innovation on the applied side. He wanted to play his part in making this happen. The Evergreen Fund attempts to continue this legacy.

Evergreen Fund