SA cleantech innovators to compete on global stage

Fly larvae that turn organic waste into animal food, reusable sanitary pads and a shark barrier that is friendly to marine life have been recognised as the top innovations for 2017 by the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMEs in South Africa (GCIP-SA). Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor was the keynote speaker at a gala event in Pretoria where the winners were announced. The grand prize of R120,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to California was awarded to Bandile Dlabantu, whose mobile insect bio-conversion unit was announced as the winning SA cleantech innovation for 2017. Runners-up Sara Andreotti (Sharksafe Barrier) and Euodia Naanyane-Bouwer (Gracious Nubian washable and reusable sanitary pads) each received a prize of R60,000, and will be joining Dlabantu at the Cleantech Open Global Forum in California in January 2018 to compete against other GCIP top performers from across the globe. Three special category winners were also announced at the event, with each receiving R20,000 in prize money.

In addition to her runner-up prize, NaanyaneBouwer scooped the innovation for social impact award. The award for the best Women Team went to the TouchTap team, led by Stephanie Pons. Comprising a team of committed female members, the team was judged to contribute significantly to the mainstreaming of women in the clean technology space. Team leader Pontsho Moletsane received the award for the most promising Youth Team on behalf of Yellow Beast for Nosets™, an automated irrigation system designed to enhance irrigation efficiency for shallow root crop agricultural markets. It was the view of the judges that, through their innovation, commitment and enthusiasm, this young team would serve to encourage other young innovators to choose entrepreneurship as a career. These top performers were selected by three provincial panels of independent judges from a pool of eleven finalists from across the country, based on key business aspects such as product/market fit, business model, financing strategy, management team, sustainability, and innovation.

Over the past four years, the GCIP-SA has assisted a total of 102 cleantech entrepreneurs and innovators in validating their technologies and developing sustainable and investment-ready business models. The programme will be integrated into the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) as from January 2018, where it will be institutionalised as a legacy project. “The premise is simple: successful innovations, innovators and entrepreneurs create industries, jobs, and contribute to better living conditions, a sustainable environment and economic growth,” says TIA CEO Mr Barlow Manilal. Successful international partnership The GCIP-SA is part of an international initiative that aims to promote clean technology innovations and support SMEs in growing their innovations into viable and sustainable businesses. Over the past four years, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and TIA have successfully implemented the GCIPSA, which continues to contribute to the green economy in SA by bringing cleantech innovations to life through extensive training and mentoring, and connecting them to networks of local and international peers as well as potential partners and funders.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been the principal project funder since 2014, while US-based Cleantech Open serves as the international knowledge partner. In her keynote address at the 2017 awards event, Minister Pandor said that the GCIP-SA’s highly successful programmatic approach accelerates commercial opportunities and creates platforms for participants to promote their product offerings and raise funding. “Through its ongoing support of entrepreneurs and innovation in the clean technology space, the Programme will contribute to strengthening the resilience of the complex South African entrepreneurial economy to operate within the global market, and will have measurable positive economic and social benefits for the country.”


Petro de Wet