Health and environmental businesses dominate SA Innovation Awards winners list

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Businesses in the health and clean environment sector walked away with most of the honours at the second My World of Tomorrow South African Innovation Awards last night.

The awards recognised innovation among entrepreneurs and businesses working to bring about positive social change in their respective communities.

“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,” Matthew Blewett, chief investment officer at Business Connexion said in a statement at the awards held at the Sandton Convention Centre.

“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,” Blewett added.

The winners in each category 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.

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. The hearScreen Smartphone Hearing Solution facilitates decentralised health care at grass roots level.

The patented 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 (Imperial Logistics)

Resolve Capacity is behind Clinic-in-a-box, a solution that 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.

Hall of Fame: Vuselela Energy

Vuselela Energy’s first-of-its-kind Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting is a clean energy power plant based at the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelting Complex near Rustenburg in the North West.

Commissioned in June this year, the plant uses waste heat from the converter cooling circuit at the smelter to generate 4.3MW of electricity which is used by the Waterval Smelter for its general power consumption.

SMME Innovation: Enviro Options

Enviro Options’ Enviro Loo is a waterless sanitation solution that addresses the factors that inhibit the installation of safe, sustainable sanitation.

Enviro Loos operate 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.

Provision in the loo’s design have been made for hand washing and hygiene facilities through the installation of rain water via a collection tank. The Enviro Loo also has a solar power solution, which powers an electric light and fan inside of it.

SMME Innovator: Jacques Malan, Director at Eternity Power and Vuselela Energy

Malan is a Pyro-Metallurgical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the ferrous, base metals, ferro-alloy and refractory industries under his belt.

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.

“All industries should be looking at technology as a mechanism of improving efficiencies, operational effectiveness as well as their competitiveness,” said Dr Sibongile Gumbi, one of the award 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.”

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