The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has signed a multi-million rand partnership with Imvelo Ventures.

The university launched its Masters Programme in Statistical Science with specialisation in Data Science in 2018 to address the skill shortages in several industries.

Data science is an interdisciplinary field which incorporates statistics, computer science and mathematics to solve a range of complex problems by using advanced analytics. There is a global demand for data scientists to, amongst other things, solve business-related problems using data-driven techniques.

Imvelo Ventures, a venture capital investment company founded by Capitec Bank and Empowerment Capital Investment Partners, will invest approximately R11-million over three years to the university’s data science programmes.

Professor Renette Blignaut, who manages UWC’s Masters Programme in Statistical Science, says the funds will further develop and expand UWC’s efforts.

“Bursaries will be offered to exemplary and deserving honours and masters students in our Statistical and Data Science programmes. This will enable us to attract, foster and produce top graduates from this exciting Masters programme,” says Prof Blignaut.

She explains that the sponsorship would also ensure the continuous upskilling of staff.

“Our Masters programme is an industry directed programme in collaboration with Northwest University (NWU). During the first semester, students complete modules to equip them with the necessary skills to complete the second semester projects with our industry partners. This one-year programme was developed by NWU to ensure that students are industry-ready when they leave university to enter the workplace. Since 2019, our UWC masters programme has been internationally accredited by SAS.”

Anton Baumann, executive director at Empowerment Capital, says: “Data is the new oil and the fundamental goal of data science is to help companies make quicker and better decisions. There is a huge demand for data scientists, and there is not enough supply.

“With this initiative, we are hoping to make our contribution to solving the job crisis in South Africa. We are proud to be able to support UWC with this new programme and further assist previously disadvantaged students who want to take up this challenge.”