Deep Liquid, a venture founded by Dr Wesley Rosslyn-Smith (an academic and business rescue practitioner) and Isak van der Walt (a senior IT consultant), seeks to assist business directors and partners – by means of an AI-powered web-platform – in making crucial reorganisational decisions based on the likelihood of liquidation their businesses may face. TuksNovation supports this sort of cross-disciplinary ideation and invention with the triple-helix model in practice here as Deep Liquid has been connected with a key player in the agricultural-service industry, namely AFGRI who is assisting the duo by means of funding for technology development and commercialisation.
EdTech / Human Resources
Another TuksNovation incubatee is Bubu Buna, cofounder and CEO of Jobox. Jobox is a student freelancing platform that capatalises on the “gig economy” by looking to better graduate youth unemployment rates by connecting high-achieving students with employers. Jobox creates placement opportunities in which students soft skills are developed before they are linked to an employer, closing the gap which exists between studies and the workplace. This EdTech venture is currently being mentored by a number of successful South African entrepreneurs, including Abu Cassim (founder of Jozi Angels), Philani Sangweni (CEO of AKRO Accelerate), and Zachariah George (partner and CIO at Startupbootcamp AfriTech). It also attracted funding from the Technology Innovation Agency and Jozi Angels.
Aviro Health is a design-focused digital health company whose purpose is to improve the experience of healthcare. This TuksNovation-accelerated company’s approach is rooted in science but combined with art. Their work complements empirical observations with the qualities of empathy, narrative and meaning – something the team considers to be the best way to create significance and change in the world of healthcare. Aviro’s flagship product, Ithaka, is a multi-channel, mobile-based tool that empowers patients by providing them with engaging guidance, support and learning to traceably improve testing and linkage to care. Ithaka helps clients overcome the key barriers on their health-seeking journeys, meaning a greater number can successfully navigate care pathways and improve health outcomes. Aviro Health raised over R5 million in March 2020 to roll out their solutions with new clients and in new regions. Aviro Health recently launched a medicine collection application for the Department of Health in the Western Cape to assist with script collection and deliveries during the COVID-19 Pandemic. They will also be launching Project Restart soon, a solution for COVID-19 that will initially assess workers risk to return to work and, eventually, share and provide guidance and training on next steps.
BioTech / Cosmeceuticals
Blyde Botanics, a start-up that founded by two doctoral students from the University of Pretoria, Bianca Payne and Isa Lambrechts, is currently incubated by TuksNovation. As a UP spin-out company, Blyde Botanics aims to manufacture three scientifically proven, quality-controlled actives from three unique indigenous plant species for the formulating of cosmeceutical products used in the treatment of acne (Actify), ageing (WrinkLess) and periodontal health (Natalfresh). Honing in on the opportunity presented by the global demand for ‘natural products’, Blyde Botanics seeks to commercialise the medicinal properties that make these South African plants special – offering the market a natural solution with high-efficacy and minimal side effects.
IoT / Telecommunications
A company led by start-up veteran and UP alumnus, Piotr Osuch (CEO and CTO) and his business partner Joe Valliarampath. cellSemi is guided by the enhanced network/connectivity needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and hopes to solve the technical issues hampering current generation of ‘E-band frontend’ market offerings (which are too large and costly). The solution entails the development of ‘E-band front-ends’ on a single chip, in silicon (CMOS / BiCMOS) with advanced signal processing capabilities – all packaged in a unit no bigger than a matchbox (as opposed to the shoebox-sized current generation E-band frontends) and offered at lower price. Potential partners and clients include firms such as Nokia, Siemens, and NEC – with cellSemi’s product being incorporated into front-end IMAs.
EdTech / Human Resources
Founded by student trio Njabulo Mthanti, Mihlali Jordan, and Joshua Zeeler, Easyburse is a start-up that provides students with increased accessibility to bursary, vacation work and graduate programme opportunities. By means of a web-based portal, the Easyburse team allows students to fill out a questionnaire populated with questions typically found in a bursary application form. The form is then used as a ‘learner profile’ and used to apply for programmes housed on the Easyburse’s database. Access to these profiles is offered (partly) to respective job providers who are then able to select candidates who will fit the criteria of their bursary programmes. Easyburse has previously implemented their system at the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET).
IoT / Telecommunications
Multifractal Semiconductors works with cellSemi (also supported by TuksNovation) to develop low cost fully integrated E-Band RF frontends in order to enable 5G, massive MIMO and autonomous cars. The technology was developed at the University of Pretoria’s Carl Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics by Piotr Osuch (of cellSemi above) and Nish Sing. It is protected patents that are licensed to Multifractal Semiconductors. The cutting-edge technology can enable the roll-out of 5G at a fraction of the cost, compared to existing technologies. Multifractal Semiconductors has secured R22 million in-kind investment from a Silicon Valley based incubator and has also raised a substantial amount of funding from the Technology Innovation Agency.
TutCo Tuition is an online tutoring and educational company that was founded by Ian Strydom in 2017. During the #FeesMustFall movement in late 2016, interest amongst undergraduate students for alternative learning methods and opportunities spiked. The disruptions were felt not only by undergraduates but amongst tutors and post-graduate students (who feared a reduction in postgraduate funding) – with both left looking for a source of income. This is when Ian started tutoring others, making an effort to link undergraduate students with his fellow colleagues for tutoring services. Ian, who is now completing his PhD in Chemistry at UP and Imperial College in London, started a tutoring company that very quickly turned over R 1 million in revenue. He has since partnered with Dr. Belinda van der Westhuizen, a chemistry and pedagogy specialist as well as lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, to help from an educational perspective as well as with operations. TutCo Tuition is now a cloud-based platform that links tutors to clients (students/parents) to transfer knowledge – either in person or online – for practically any subject or skill, at any level.
Ntombikayise Banda is the inspirational entrepreneur behind FundaBotix. Ntombikayise is an alumnus of the University of Pretoria and a University of Cambridge PhD candidate, specialising in the application of artificial intelligence in education. Drawing on her academic expertise and passion for E-STEAM education, Ntombikayise has developed a low-cost robotic kit designed to teach school-going learners programming, engineering, and critical thinking skills in a fun, engaging, and tangible manner. The robotic kits are modular in design and easily extendible by means of additional electronic components and sensors. Ntombikayise hopes to increase learner access and exposure to robotics and related Fourth Industrial Revolution skills, particularly for neglected segments such as townships and rural areas. FundaBotix was one of twenty social enterprises (out of 600 applicants) to be selected as finalists for the 2019 SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and was awarded was a Seed Grant of R200 000 to support its initiatives.
Protea Machine Tools
Protea Machine Tools was formed to commercialise Dr Lukas du Plessis’ patented “Hybrid Five-Axis Machine Tool”. Dr Du Plessis’ hybrid machine tool works on five axes to allow users to shape, cut, grind, shear, and otherwise form metals and hard materials with great precision and speed. Protea Machine Tools was founded by Lukas, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, and Conrad Mahuma, an after-sales specialist contracting for Zeiss South Africa and Germany. Du Plessis was one of two South African Entrepreneurs that were among the 16 shortlisted candidates for the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2018. The start-up is currently raising funding as a means for building their beta prototype and refining their business model.
Artificial Intelligence / Mixed Industries
Invoke Analytics, founded by Dawie Diamand, a Postdoctoral Fellow at UP, develops innovative artificial intelligence- and machine learning-driven products. The Invoke team offer end-to-end artificial intelligence solutions, ranging from database integration to frontend development, specialising in energy, insurance and industrial optimisation (with past clients include King Price Insurance, GIZ, Spar, Logbox, and more). Their latest EdTech solution, Scholareview, is the first platform, that is specifically made for researchers by researchers to aid in the educational review process of postgraduate academic outputs.
Free Radical Process Design
Electrowinning is an industrial hydrometallurgical technique employed world-wide to produce metals from ionic solutions. The standard technology employed across the world is based on intellectual property developed more than 100 years ago; working in a semi-batch fashion, requiring manual operation and heavy lifting equipment. Dr Ryno Pretorius, founder of Free Radical Process Design, developed “Rotowinner” during his studies at the University of Pretoria. “Rotowinner” is a novel and patented technology that produces various metals, specifically copper, on a continuous basis; negating the need for extensive operator interface and the aforementioned heavy lifting equipment – meaning higher operating efficiencies and, most importantly, increased worker safety. A license has been granted from UP to Free Radical Process Design to commercialise the “Rotowinner” technology. The company recently raised capital from the Technology Innovation Agency to assist with this.
“To become the easiest mobile bank app in South Africa” – this is Trans Africa’s vision. The team behind this project hope to realise this vision through the creation of a card-less, cash-less, brick-less and paper-less bank which can be opened in less than 10 minutes from one’s mobile device – alleviating the need for the costly installations needed when launnching a traditional bank. Trans Africa plans to supply those who are either unbanked or underbanked with a means for managing their finances on-the-go.
Co-founded by seasoned entrepreneur Ian Strydom, also the founder of TutCo Tuition, and an experienced team of education consultants, Wingu Academy started delivering high quality education to eager minds in the whole of Africa. Wingu Academy uses current and innovative teaching and learning methods. Wingu Academy’s expert staff is highly trained to provide the best possible support. No two students are the same and Wingu Academy embraces all differences by providing bespoke educational solutions that meet the individual needs of our parents and learners. Wingu Academy is responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and will be launching their exciting blended learning virtual school in May 2020.
Founded by UP engineering graduate Vukosi Mboweni, Solarready is a GreenTech start-up building a mobile-based application that enables the user to ‘design’ a solar power system for their home or business in easy steps. The app has a user-friendly interface catering for people with various levels of renewable energy knowledge, with the backend having been intelligently designed using advanced engineering formulas. It creates a complete experience similar to that of what an energy consultant would offer. The app outputs the most optimal product design and setup based on the user’s load and consumption trends, thus making it cheaper and – by means of linking the client with a verified installer in the area – more convenient than individual installation undertakings.
Platform / E-Commerce
Skoot is an on-demand mobility service aiming to provide clients with a means for moving packages from one location to another. Using a cloud-based web application, clients are connected with nearby drivers in real-time, with the app generating fares and service costs which – when accepted by the client – sends a notification to the driver closest to them. Founder and student Xolani Kumalo sees the service as the ‘last mile’ of the a package-moving or delivery service, with the value proposition driving the venture based upon its uniqueness and a simple payment programme (as customers pay according to distance travelled and Skoot – as provider – charging a commission on the services rendered).
Urban Play is a young TuksNovation-incubated digital advertising company offering well-tailored solutions to clients looking to market in a disruptive-technology-driven world. These well-tailored solutions come in the form of digital screens provided by Urban Play to drivers (for services such as Taxify and Bolt) on which marketing materials are displayed – benefitting both commuters and drivers.
WeMingle is a social engagement app that new people – face-to-face – within a diameter of 40 meters. Originally intended as a social engagement app, the business has been pivoted to offer a networking solution to corporates. The app was developed as part of the Tech Launchpad Challenge, after which the business model was refined and beta tests were conducted.
SkillsPassport is a web and mobile application that facilitates the capturing of a person’s demographic information, qualifications and other relevant information as a means for compiling a ‘Dynamic Digital Profile – used to apply for job opportunities. The profile is designed to better articulate a person’s potential, allowing for improved access to the economy and – ultimately – a place to start their journey towards purpose through a well-fitting job. The Dynamic Digital Profile therefore positions job seekers to access the economy and start their journey towards purpose and dignity.
Letterbox is a feedback platform that facilitates easy dialogue between organisations and their customers. These “letterboxes” are accessible to the public, who can post compliments, complaints and suggestions directly to the establishment. The Letterbox team consists of three honours Computer Science students who have been developing the platform since June 2017. They have developed a web-app, an Android app and an iOS app all sharing the same high-speed real-time database. “We have benefited greatly from the access to office space on campus, and the business support,” said CEO of Letterbox, Ngonidzashe Mujuru.
The Turniptool is a small hand-held tool that can be used to fasten rivet nuts in small spaces. It has applications in the aerospace, agriculture, DIY and other sectors.
With a keen focus on operational efficiency, energy efficiency, demand management and the mitigation of carbon taxation, Oelinga is a consulting start-up that uses technology to assist clients in improving upon operating costs whilst continuing to meet the goals and demands of their organisations. What separates Oelinga from other energy consultancies is their use of technologies such as optimisation algorithms, data visualisation tools and data intelligence systems as a means for not only improving the speed of processing and offering better turnaround times but for generating results which are easier for clients to engage with and make better future business decisions.
Smart Avo is a new technology designed to track and trace fruit and vegetables from the field all the way to the consumer. The device consists of a handheld “laser-branding device” used to mark agricultural produce whilst still in the orchard on the tree with a permanent marking that is not detrimental to the development and quality of the produce. This process creates a feedback mechanism otherwise unseen in the industry: the ability to track the fruits and vegetables produced by farmers can be used to prove ownership (and origin) in a market where possible theft of produce is present and traceability from the seller is required (enabling better quality control processes).
Sorghum Revolution is a food company bringing tasty, healthy sorghum snack products to the South African market. Sorghum is a gluten free, climate smart, indigenous African cereal. This uniquely South African start-up venture produces a range of sorghum biscuits (under the ‘SO-YHUM’ name) – biscuits high in fibre protein, with a low glycemic index, and rich in antioxidants (as well as health-promoting bioactive compounds).
Umoya Innovations has developed a windmill that delivers a cost effective and reliable solution to both subsistence and emerging farmers who require less water for their agricultural operations – providing this new age of farmers and existing communities with a means for bringing down their input costs, driving profits, and consequently creating jobs and further uplifting and assisting the communities within which they operate. The product is modular and will soon be able to generate electricity as well.
Strata Game Changers
Strata Game Changers enables leaders to get employees to turn a strategy into reality. It facilitates accelerated transformation in strategy execution. Modern transformation strategies are failing due to outdated employee influence practices being applied. Research shows that successful transformations require the head (intellectual understanding of the direction), heart (emotional buy-in) and the hands (a shift in behaviour). Almost everything shared with employees is forgotten within a few days. Repetition is required to embed transformation and change. Technology removes the dependency on multiply internal role and provides direct influence on every employee. Strata Game Changers utilises a new business practice of constantly onboarding all employees at specific intervals, called EverboardingTM. Strata Game Changers has developed a Micro-Everboarding Platform as a transformation platform that enables leaders to influence all transformation activities such as strategy, digital, culture, innovation etc. on one platform in a measurable way.