Eastern Cape-based Innovators and entrepreneurs scooped a quarter of the 25 inaugural Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Awards, which were presented in Port Elizabeth as part of the African Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Composites Show.
Five of the six Eastern Cape award-winners work out of the Propella Business Incubator in Port Elizabeth.
“The fact that Propella is the only support institution to have produced five winners is confirmation of both the innovative spirit of Eastern Cape people and our selection and incubation processes,” says business incubation manager Anita Palmer.
Founded in 2015, Propella has established itself as a development hub for smart city solutions in both the advanced manufacturing and ICT (information and communication technology) fields.
Uitenhage-based Innovative Dental Solutions took gold in the “most promising start-up or newcomer” category for a smart gum guard which Propella is helping to commercialise.
Founder Ralph Meintjies is a qualified dental technologist, who also works with Smile Ministries International and Adopt a Smile.
The gum guard will record and transmit information related to impacts that may result in injuries sustained by those playing contact sports.
He was joined in the category by QPark South Africa and Celeste Daylight, which both received special recognition.
QPark, founded by quadriplegic industrial engineer Heinrich Williams, is developing an automated parking-bay control system which shopping malls and other public areas can use to ensure that the parking reserved for the disabled is not abused.
Celeste Daylight’s Danie Voigt is close to having a system that emulates daylight ready for market.
There were also two Scholarly Impact awards for Propella innovators – Silver for Robert Bosch, the inventor and Technical director of Rubber Nano Products, and special recognition Sean Poole, who used the Propella facility to further research into a new design for small-scale wind turbine blades.
All five are attached to the Isuzu Industrial Hub.
The other Eastern Cape winner was factory automation and robotics pioneers Jendamark (silver for “Advancement in Advanced Manufacturing).
“Our Propella incubatees are in great company – Jendamark is an inspiration to all technology entrepreneurs in the country,” says Propella senior industrial advisor Grant Minnie.