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Local innovation gets platform

The 7th annual South African Innovation Summit, an event highlighting local innovation, will take place from 16 to 18 September 2014 at the Cape Town Stadium. This year’s theme, ‚ÄòLocal Innovation, Global Conversation’, showcases South Africa’s creativity, originality and ingenuity.

The SA Innovation Summit forms part of World Design Capital (WDC) Cape Town 2014, an international city promotion project that celebrates the merits of design and highlights the accomplishments of cities. “We are excited to capitalise on the WDC and draw the world’s attention to showcase our innovative capability, to take local innovation into a broader global conversation,” says Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, Chairman of SA Innovation Summit.

“Every person has the capacity to conceive new things, from the simple to the complex. This activity of creation is called design and most people do it every day, whether they use the term or not,” explains Verhaeghe.

The SABS Design Institute, one of the SA Innovation Summit sponsors, is the official body mandated to develop South Africa’s national design capability. The institute connects the landscape of entrepreneurial activity by linking entrepreneurs to funders, big business, academic institutions, government and society in general.

The Epicentre, a design and innovation entrepreneurship centre, was launched by the SABS Design Institute in January 2014. “The Epicentre can be seen as an innovation because it is addressing the ‚Äòinnovation gap’ by positioning design as the glue between Research and Development (R&D) and commerce,” says Gavin Mageni, Head of the SABS Design Institute.

The Epicentre develops new entrepreneurial businesses and increases the success of existing businesses using a design-based approach. A person or team is guided and mentored from the initial phase of R&D or idea creation through a process of reverse engineering: asking questions such as ‚Äòwho is the end user?’ and ‚Äòis there a need in the market for this service or product?’

The Epicentre follows a hands-on, multi-layered approach and has access to a multi-disciplinary team of experts. Once candidates have completed the process, they are assisted with acquiring the appropriate support needed to continue growing their businesses. The aim is to fully support design and innovation, as well as set up relationships with relevant industry entities, such as Eskom or the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

“We believe in business that builds innovation,” explains Lynette Essey, Senior Innovation Manager at the IDC. “As sponsors of the Innovation Summit, we are anticipating an influx of talent and innovation. We look forward to the potential partnerships that will inevitably be formed.

One of the many partnerships that the IDC is proud of building is with Tshete Holdings, an infrastructure engineering business based in Limpopo. The company has since won various awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2013, from the Polokwane Chamber of Commerce. Tshete Holdings entered into an essential gap within the road infrastructure market, offering a solution to potholes with permanent and immediate repairs.

The SA Innovation Summit helps create a platform for matchmaking, such as the partnership between Tshete Holdings and the IDC. It connects innovators from the private and public sector and provides a platform where they can participate and grow their know-how by encouraging innovative deal-making.

Attendees will experience innovation and collaboration, fostering global conversations with like-minded individuals. Topics ranging from ‚ÄòHow to take local entrepreneurs to global greatness through design thinking’ to ‚ÄòCreating locally but growing internationally,’ will be addressed by a stellar line up. At the summit, there will be 36 speakers: a CEO panel debate on policies needed for an innovative business to thrive: 33 Spark Lab exhibition stands will be open daily: a pitching den where innovators across all industries can pitch their ideas, as well as an inventor’s garage exhibition and a youth day programme.

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