The Innovation Hub's Maxum Business Incubator has graduated three Gauteng-based start-ups, which have successfully established their businesses. This brings the total number of graduates to 10 over the last year.
With a combined annual turnover of more than R8 million annually since entering the Maxum incubation programme over the last two years, all three graduating start-ups – Active Touch, TMI Consulting and SRM Technologies – have successfully commercialised innovative new products in local and international markets.
The three companies, whose business activities range across the ICT, electronics and materials and value-added manufacturing sectors, have all spent at least two years in incubation. With the assistance of business mentors and the enabling, shared services environment at the Hub, their businesses grew to self-sustaining levels that enabled them to exit incubation as successful business entities.
According to Dr Jill Sawers, manager of Mxum, the Maxum Business Incubator has reported a success rate of 83% of entrepreneurs establishing sustainable businesses through its incubation programmes.
“On average, the growth rate in annual turnover of the 10 companies that have graduated from Maxum since its inception in 2000 has been 78%, with an accumulated annual turnover in excess of R50-million as at the end of 2006. This significant achievement is evidence of a government initiative to stimulate SME development and economic growth that is giving a significant return on investment," she says.
The innovative new products and services from the three companies include e-learning courses for industry and progress tracking through customised e-learning management systems; simulation and control technologies to improve product development and qualification processes by halving duration and costs for the aerospace, automotive and defence industries, such as reducing the flight testing of the new Gripen from one month to one week; and customised, end-to-end supply chain solutions where the technology is currently being used to manage 800-million Pounds Sterling worth of transactions such as tenders, contracts and reverse auctioning.
Active Touch MD Catherine Fourtier, says Maxum had helped the company to develop into a professional business. Current clients include Toyota SA and the SA Post Office, for whom they have developed customised eLearning courses for the sales force and employees respectively.
The local aerospace and defence industries are benefiting from the cutting-edge simulation and control technologies being developed by TMI Dynamatics. Managing Member Thivash Moodley indicates that about 50% of their projects are with Saab and Bae Systems, as well as Denel, the CSIR and African Defence Systems. The company has been contracted to perform aeronautical analysis for the integration of external stores for the new Gripen fighter aircraft and customise the aircrew training simulator for the SA Air Force.
“Currently, we are preparing simulation and control technologies for the automotive industry," says Moodley.
According to SRM Technologies COO Johann Havenga, the company has concluded a significant deal with the Bidvest Group in Europe to develop a complete, end-to-end integrated supply chain solution. This makes the company the preferred key technology partner for Bidvest’s UK procurement services arm, Makella. Havenga believes that this deal heralds good news for the local market, where supplier relationship management as a concept is in the early stages of adoption.
“Exposure to international expertise and technologies can only strengthen the local industry. Th SRM technology, although originally from overseas, will now become locally driven," he says.
In addition to business success, the companies in Maxum also contribute to job creation. “Between the 36 companies that have participated in Maxum’s incubation programmes since 2000, 195 jobs have been created in the local economy," says Sawers.
Assuming that each job created has resulted in a salaried position of approximately R150 000.00, then Maxum tenants have created taxable earning of almost R30-million. Nine of these companies are BEE-owned and two have female ownership.