If you’ve come across “Area 51 raid” or saw the phrase trending all over social media this past weekend, you might be wondering what’s…
The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) is calling on South African innovators with tech solutions to local challenges to submit their proposals for tech development assistance and funding under the agency’s Grassroots Innovation Programme (GIP).
TIA’s Sibongile Radebe, who works on the GIP team, told Ventureburn yesterday (29 January) that the agency is currently scaling up the programme following a pilot of the programme run by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) between 2016 and 2018.
Applications for TIA’s Grassroots Innovation Programme close on 8 February
Those selected for the programme can benefit from a wide array of support, namely: prototype development, research and development assistance, modelling and simulation, software support, intellectual property protection, as well as access to funding.
“Budgets and funding depend on the nature of technology or prototype developed,” explained Radebe. She added that during the pilot phase of the programme about R2-million in grant funding was disbursed to participants.
In the pilot phase the CSIR provided R2-million in funding to support four innovators from three provinces — namely KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng, she said.
Some of the tech solutions developed during the programme’s pilot include:
Desktop computer numerical control (CNC) machine: While most CNC machines are large, expensive and require large space, the CNC solution developed in the programme was “cost effective” and was aimed at manufacturers who work with small components and products and have limited space.
Hot spot geyser sock: This is a geyser sleeve made of plastisol for retrofitting of the existing seven million geysers onto South Africa’s grid that currently account for between 40 and 50 percent of monthly energy consumption.
The Hot Spot — which can be retrofitted on both horizontal and vertical high pressure geysers ( including solar geysers) — allows consumers to access about 50 litres of water of at least 50 Celsius temperature in less than 30 minutes.
Radebe said the innovation was a response to the energy crisis and allows consumers to heat the volume of hot water they need, when they need it at “reduced energy consumption” and costs in the Eastern Cape
Dual-powered bicycle: Developed from recycled pipes, this bicycle — which is powered both manually via the pedal mechanism and also through a fuel-driven system — can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h.
Radebe pointed out that in Gauteng province the Ekurhuleni Metro’s small business department has shown interest in running a pilot with the innovator to manufacture the bicycle using recycled material collected in the metro.
TIA will assess applicants based on the following:
- Applications must be at concept design or early proof of concept, ideally pre-revenue and with less than R100 000 in previous external investment.
- Solutions must be innovative while addressing a market or social need.
- Whether the prototype or proof of concept is technologically and financially viable. In addition, applications will be assessed on whether they use sustainable design, their production methods, as well as materials used.
- Whether a clear market has been identified.
- Whether the innovation addresses a real social challenge and how adaptable it is in other localities.
- Whether a vision of the commercialisation viability of the innovation has been articulated.
Featured image: Technology Innovation Agency via Facebook