Kathy Gibson reports from MyWorld of Tomorrow – Winners of the inaugural South African Innovation Awards, celebrating locally-developed solutions that address local issues, have been announced.
Matthew Blewett, chief investment officer of Business Connexion (BCX), says the company believes that innovation is essential.
“South Africa’s perils won’t be solved by political or social will alone,” he says. “The optimism for Africa’s future is not based on government or big business, but in the creativity of the citizens of Africa.”
Invention thrives in necessity, Blewett says. “But invention needs a home, an environment where it is encouraged and has the best tools to thrive. This is where government and big business can make a difference; and it is in this context that we launched the inaugural South African Innovation Awards.”
BCX refers to the finalists in the South African Innovation Awards as afro-optimists. “They are fuelled by adrenalin and believe everything is possible,” Blewett says. “They understand that working together creates a total that is greater than the sum of it parts.
“Ours is a nation of stubborn optimism; we believe in the now, that it’s not what happens to us that determines our future, but how we respond to it.
“We believe that technology can create a better nation and a better continent. Africa has a real opportunity to become a leader in innovation.”
Blewett adds: “In the old days it was the large companies that could set up research and development houses, and could be the leaders in innovation that benefited most. But it’s changing now – we are seeing the democratisation of innovation. That’s because today you can innovate by having an internet connection and you can even fund yourself through various methods.
“That is why we launched the SA Innovation Awards – to provide a platform for African innovators, big or small, to showcase how they are bringing great local ideas to life. It’s our way of recognising and celebrating innovation.”
“All industries should be looking at technology as a mechanism of improving efficiencies, operational effectiveness as well as their competitiveness,” adds Dr Sibongile Gumbi, one of this year’s SA Innovation Awards judges and group executive at the Technology Innovation Agency. “It is important to embrace technology and in the end see these innovations in the market.”
The winners of the SA Innovation Awards are:
Collaborative Innovation: Barclays Africa Group
Created by Barclays and launched in 2014, ‘Rise’ is a global community for open innovation designed to pioneer the future of financial services through technology. It has been created to plug start-ups, corporates and innovators into a global network to enable them to connect, co-create, and scale the ‘next big thing’ in financial services. ‘Rise’ hosts numerous open innovation programmes, including the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstarts at select locations in New York, London, Manchester and in Africa.
Since launching, ‘Rise’ has established multiple partnerships and proofs of concept in order to make Barclays more competitive, as well as support the ecosystem by providing time, expertise and resources with the help of Barclays’ senior executive mentors, industry experts and subject matter expert mentors and funding of up to $100,000 per venture.
Community Innovation: hearScreen
hearScreen offers a solution for the detection of hearing problems in underserved communities utilising generalist community health workers equipped with mobile phones. This allows the decentralised health care at grass roots level.
The patented hearScreen smartphone hearing test, developed and validated at the University of Pretoria, is the first solution for hearing tests operated by untrained personnel with cloud based data management and a referral system that links patients to services.
Corporate Innovation: Resolve Capacity, a division of Resolve Solution Partners, an Imperial Group company
The Clinic-in-a-box™ solution provides a ready-to-use clinic which has sections for consultations, drugs storage and dispensing and record keeping providing an all-in-one solution without the need for multiple facilities. The units do not have to have a concrete base or slab for installation and can be disassembled and moved if necessary.
This innovation provides affordable quality healthcare to the African continent’s most vulnerable people living in the remotest of places.
Hall of Fame: Vuselela Energy
The Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting™ power plant is a clean energy power plant based at the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelting Complex near Rustenburg in the North West Province. The plant uses waste heat from the convertor cooling circuit at the smelter to generate 4.3MW of electricity which is used by the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelter for its general power consumption. Developed by Vuselela Energy in collaboration with Anglo Platinum, the plant was commissioned in June 2015.
It is the world’s first power plant of its kind and is a reflection of true innovation in the field of energy efficiency.
SMME Innovation: Enviro Options
The Enviro Loo is an innovative, dry sanitation solution that addresses the factors that inhibit the installation of safe, sustainable sanitation. It operates through a process of dehydration and evaporation, occurring naturally through the use of the sun, gravity and wind. The system has zero environmental impact, as it uses no water or chemicals, and the decomposition of the waste takes place in a sealed unit, thus ensuring no water or ground contamination can occur.
Although the toilet system is waterless, there has been provision in the design to provide hand washing and hygiene facilities through the installation of rain water via a collection tank. Using solar technology, the unit is able to power an electric light and fan, not only improving the processing throughout the unit but also providing a dignified experience.
SMME Innovator: Jacques Malan, Director at Eternity Power and Vuselela Energy
Jacques is a Pyro-Metallurgical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the ferrous, base metals, ferro-alloy and refractory industries. His experience includes research and process design through to commissioning and operation of metallurgical plants in South Africa and internationally. Throughout his career, Jacques has specialised in the development of new processes for NICE applications and has authored a number of publications in the metallurgical field.
He was also responsible for the establishment of the first construction design and management compliant Waste Gas to Energy plant in the worldwide Ferro-Alloy industry, a 17MW plant at international Ferro Metals.
The MWOT conference and expo will run from 22-24 October at the Sandton Convention Centre. Tickets are available at www.mwotafrica.com.