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Local drone wins big in ‚’Innovation Idols’ contest

A South African designed drone, designed for aerial fire-fighting, has won the ICT category of the 2013 Step-Up Technology Innovation Competition, described as the ‚”Innovation Idols‚”.

A locally made drone quadricopter, the SteadiDrone, designed for aerial firefighting, has won the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) category of South Africa’s first national business idea competition, aimed specifically at inventors and innovators.

The winners and runners-up include a unique spray to rapidly detach braids from natural hair and a cattle ‚”breathalyzer‚” that can diagnose diseases and eliminate the need for lengthy blood tests.

Jaco Horn of Steadi Drone with the winning entry at the Step-Up awards

The 2013 Step-Up Technology Innovation Competition, which is sponsored by Sasol and the Technology Innovation Agency of the Department of Science and Technology, received close to 400 entries from innovators throughout South Africa.

The winners were announced at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria last week.

Winners and runners-up will benefit from a total of R4.5 million in prizes and benefits, including coaching, mentorship, cash, tablet devices and business support from the Small Enterprise Development Agency.

‚”This has turned out to be the ‚’Idols of innovation’ in South Africa,‚” says Project Director Martin Feinstein, whose company, Traction, runs the programme.

‚”There is enormous innovation talent out there, coming up with concepts that solve real-world problems and have great commercial potential. The programme will assist them to link up with investors, as well as receive mentorship and coaching.‚”

Both Sasol and the Technology Innovation Agency have been closely involved in selecting the winners, and TIA will evaluate them for its funding and technical support programmes to help accelerate their commercial application.

Says Feinstein: ‚”We plan for Step-Up to become a channel and clearing house for anyone who has an innovation concept or business and who is looking for the recognition and support that will accelerate its growth. We hope the annual winners will be attractive to investors and large companies alike.‚”

Traction has partnered with a range of venture capital funds and entrepreneur support organisations, as well as Microsoft, the Innovation Hub, the SA Innovation Network and others.

The category winners

Information And Communication Technologies

Steadidrone (Pty) Ltd (Duran & Alexa de Villiers)

SteadiDrone is an unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer specializing in advanced aerial photography, HD filming and aerial imaging platforms for the commercial, industrial and film industries. The ‚”drones‚” combine innovative design, control technology and versatility, including being supplied in kit form, and we are already exporting to several international markets.


Kraalbos Bio-Health Products (Jeremy Klaasen)

KBHP is developing the patented Galenia Africana (kraalbos) extract as a unique, multi-functional cosmetic ingredient composed of a unique blend of natural ingredients that delivers herbal attributes to personal care products as well as a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Developing new cosmetic formulations by replacing chemical preservatives with ingredients with botanical antimicrobial properties is becoming also a key route to develop self-preserving cosmetics. The kraalbos extract therefore provides innovative functional ingredients with substantial benefits to manufacturers and to end-users when compared with existing ingredients. Galenia Africana grows predominantly on communal land in the Succulent Karoo biome in the Northern and Western Cape. It can provide a valuable supplement to farmer incomes.

Mining And Manufacturing

CSR-Africa Tank Repairs CC (Ismael Hassen & Rashaad Musa)

The Bitu-Box is a mobile storage or transport unit for bulk bitumen with an integrated heating system that offers distinct advantages over the conventional drum. This design also has a life span of 7 years versus drums that can only be used once-off, and it allows for faster depot turnaround times with less labour. It also eliminates environmental air pollution due to hazardous fumes. This unit can also be used as temporary storage facility for petroleum or logistic companies to allow them easier access to. The units have been approved to be transported by sea, road and rail. It was designed to comply with international design codes IMDG, ADR and ASME VIII div 1.


Delta Steam Systems (Bryan Anderson & Jacques Verwey)

The Delta Venturi Steam Trap is a technologically advanced device that is able to remove water from a steam system while keeping the high-pressure steam in the system, without the use of moving parts. The Delta uses the energy in the hot water that it is ejecting, as it ‘flashes’ into steam, to restrict the steam from escaping and allowing the system to remain dry and efficient. The Delta steam trap is more compact than conventional steam traps and, with a life expectancy in excess of 20 years, the Delta steam trap offers distinct advantages.

Health And Biotechnology Joint Winners

Advanced Affordable Prosthetics (Drew van der Riet)

This concept seeks to bring the latest innovations in research to the field of upper limb electromyography (EMG) prosthetics. New sensory feedback technology is under development that will restore the sense of touch to the wearer of the prosthesis. Sensory restoration is lacking in contemporary prosthetics and can greatly improve the prosthetic experience of the amputees. With a sense of touch, the amputee can hold delicate objects more carefully, without breaking or dropping them. A new control system is also under development which will improve the amputee’s ability to use the EMG controlled prosthesis. Advances in manufacturing technology allow our proposed upper limb prostheses to be manufactured for less, while greatly enhancing bodily functionality and mobility.

BB Unbraid Spray (Xoliswa Malinga & Malegola Mohlala)

The Unbraid Spray biochemically breaks down the synthetic polymer used to manufacture artificial hair used for braiding of hair. Unbraid Spray detangles braids from your hair within minutes, saving time, pain and costs. The active ingredient manipulates the properties of the synthetic polymer causing it to expand: this expansion detangles the synthetic polymer from one’s natural hair, which enables one to literally pull down the braids away from ones hair. BB Unbraid Spray has been formulated with a protective layer which covers the strands of your natural hair, preventing biochemical damage. BB Unbraid spray brings a solution to hours spent manually taking off braids.

Green Environment

Interloop Global (Michael Suttner)

The Lightie is an extremely efficient patent-pending test-tube shaped solar powered light bulb that has been designed to fit into a standard PET soda bottle, converting the bottle into a multi-functional solar powered lantern/task light. The Lightie aims to be a complete replacement solution to paraffin based lighting in Africa and the developing world, where every year fumes and fires from paraffin lamps and stoves kill approximately 1.5 million people. The Lightie offers the same affordability and availability as paraffin, but has clear benefits: less shack fires, no carbon emissions, better health, improved education, and savings of up to 20% or more per month. The Lightie‚Ñ¢ will light up homes, schools & health clinics with clean, affordable and freely available light from the sun.

Food And Agriculture

Bio Research and Development CC (Amelia Rampersad)

Flypot is a flytrap equipped with special bio-engineered bait designed to attract fly species (specifically the female fly) common in agricultural areas, including house flies, false stable flies, blow flies, blue and green bottle flies, flesh flies, face flies and many others. The trap has a fully sealable mechanism for hygienic disposal. It contains a specially formulated, non-toxic granular biological attractant that is activated by warm water. Lured by the scent, flies enter through the patented sealable turret/cap. When inside the trap, the flies become contained and cannot escape. Once the trap is full, the turret is tightly sealed and the trap disposed on refuse removal day.

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