Durban - KwaZulu-Natal is aiming to secure at least half a billion rand in investment for new business ventures and development projects through the KZN Funding Fair which opened in Durban yesterday.

Prospective projects – costing around R3bn – would be presented for funding at the two-day event, which is hosted by the KZN Treasury in partnership with Deloitte.

The event is in its second year and last year more than R340m was secured for projects.

Clive Coetzee of the KZN Treasury said while most of the funding secured was for new ventures, a “significant amount” had been secured for the treasury’s technology innovation hubs initiative.

Last year The Mercury reported that the treasury was formulating plans for these hubs in Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Newcastle and the Ugu District (KZN South Coast).

These would be deve-loped to lure further public and private sector investment and create jobs.

Tech hub

Some 240 hectares around the Pietermaritzburg Airport has been identified by the Msunduzi Municipality and treasury as the site of a tech hub, which would function as an “aviation industry cluster”.

Coetzee said Durban-based light aircraft engine manufacturer, Adept Airmotive, was looking to move from Virginia Airport to the Pietermaritzburg Airport tech hub precinct.

The municipality hoped to secure up to R2bn in private sector investment in the hub.

It wanted to capitalise on the location near one of the fastest-growing regional airports in South Africa.

Coetzee could not reveal from which organisation the treasury had secured funding for the four tech hubs.

An official announcement would be made this month.

“Considering we saw over R340m secured for several of the projects presented at last year’s KZN Funding Fair, we think a target of more than half a billion this year is achievable. The entrepreneurs and promoters behind 40 projects will pitch their ventures to prospective financiers at the fair,” he said.

André Pottas, the corporate finance advisory boss for KZN at Deloitte, said the event aimed to connect entrepreneurs looking for funding for “bankable projects” and the host of funding and grant institutions available.

He said interesting projects being pitched this year included proposals for three private hospitals, agri-processing ventures and manufacturing concerns. - The Mercury