Innovations get leg up

2017-05-16 06:02

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Seven entrepreneurs in the province have been given a financial boost for their innovative creations.

They received grants of up R500 000 each awarded from the second round of the Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF).

The DISF is a project of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) with investment and management funds respectively provided by the Technology Innovation Agency and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Launched in 2014, the first round of the DISF funding was allocated to develop innovative ideas. The grants were used for a large range of activities, including developing prototypes, producing market samples, undertaking market research and investigating intellectual property rights.

Erica Elk, CCDI executive director, says the second DISF round has a focus on helping ground-breaking South African-developed designs and ideas in four priority areas.

“We decided that in our second round of funding we didn’t want to just support innovation for its own sake; but rather to align with national and provincial priority sectors that will support economic growth. This round of funding saw a specific focus on the agri-processing, health and biotech, and the manufacturing sectors. We had some incredible applications, 57 in total.”

The seven innovations selected for funding are:

. OptiShunt by Liqid Medical – an innovative medical device which offers real hope for the definitive prevention of blindness caused by glaucoma.

. Oak extracts by Oranet – a liquid “essence of oak” that will reduce and replace the use of conventional barrels for wine-making.

. DNABurn by Signal Biotechnology – a stimulant-free weight loss supplement.

. Fuel-cell powered drones that deliver sterile insects into export citrus by FlyH2 to combat pests that spoil fruits.

. MicroPatch by Incitech – a one-step transdermal rapid test suitable for both professional and home use HIV testing.

. Suction dissector by Disa Vascular – a new type of device for blunt dissection of soft tissue.

. Video laryngoscope by SmartBlade – the SmartBlade uses smartphone technology to provide guided laryngoscopy.

Alan Winde, provincial minister of economic opportunities, says investing in innovators is one of the best ways to grow the economy.

“Far too many young businesses, and the jobs that would come with them, fall to the wayside due to a lack of finance. We launched this fund three years ago, in collaboration with like-minded partners, to give entrepreneurs from our region the kickstart they need to develop their ideas into reality. The winners of this year’s grants prove that the spirit of innovation is alive and well in the Western Cape.”


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