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Innovation award celebrates five years

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The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards 2015 has been opened for entry and all entrepreneurs and innovators with innovative, pro-poor products and services are invited to participate in the competition which carries a first prize of R1-million.This year, the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards celebrates five years of its commitment to improving the lives of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable, particularly women, the youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas, as well as empowering entrepreneurs and innovators who help change the lives of individuals.

The SAB Foundation was established as a beneficiary of SAB’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) transaction, SAB Zenzele. The SAB Foundation is an independent trust for the benefit of historically disadvantaged individuals and communities through entrepreneurial development in South Africa.

Since 2010, the SAB Foundation has supported 260 enterprises at a total investment of close to R50-million.

In a bid to strengthen its business development support to innovators, the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards 2015 has officially teamed up with the South African Bureau of Standards’ (SABS) dedicated Design and Innovation Studio. Their world renowned team of 30-multi-discplinary experts will help the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards finalists develop their ideas into prototypes, as well as the product’s design and commercialisation.

The Social Innovation Awards was launched in 2011 as part of the SAB Foundation’s primary focus to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa. To date, the awards have invested in 49 innovators and their innovations at a total cost of over R13-million.

“The Social Innovation Awards has unearthed some game changing social innovations in the past, from lifesaving malaria tests, to affordable instant food gardens, efficiencies in public health, solar technologies, housing construction using waste and many more. These are local innovations that that we are extremely proud of and trust that this year will showcase even more remarkable products and services,” says SAB Foundation manager, Bridgit Evans.

The SAB Foundation Innovation Awards offers a first place grant of R1-million, second place grant of R500 000 and third place R350 000. In addition, several developmental awards are awarded to deserving and stand-out innovations.
Grants are provided to help upscale and commercialise innovative solutions, a process which is supported by the SAB Foundation in partnership with the SABS Design and innovation Studio.

Product innovations cover goods and services which can be divided into “new” or “improved”. A new product may use advanced technology and knowledge, or a combination of the two, while an improved product is one that already exists, and its performance has been enhanced.

Process innovations involve adapting and creatively improving ways of delivering a product or service. This could come from changes in knowledge, perception and/or understanding. The innovation solution must have progressed past an idea and must have proof-of-concept.

This means that applicants must be able to show evidence that prior to entering the competition that they have invested time and/or capital developing the innovation. The social impact of the innovation is a strong selection criterion.

An open competition puts innovator applicants and their innovation through a rigorous, phased adjudication process. In the end, investments are made in those innovations which are innovative, scalable and can be commercialised.