The Savant Innovators In Residence (IIR) programme was designed to provide business incubation support to young individuals with technical mind-sets that have entrepreneurial aspirations, but do not possess the business toolkits required to pursue entrepreneurial ventures.
Savant’s Managing Partner; Nick Allen explains:
“The IIR programme was designed to support innovators that would otherwise be unable to concentrate on progressing their innovation due to personal financial pressure – especially those innovators that don’t have the means to support themselves through the technology development process. We see this as a way to encourage greater inclusion in the hardware technology field.”
In recruiting the programme attendees, Savant selects individuals who have a hunger for business development and a well-formed idea of an innovative and novel technology that they wish to transform into a sustainable business.
The IIR programme takes place over 12 months. During the programme, the IIR:
- Transforms their idea into an early prototype or executes a trial, as part of an IIR business incubation process, supported by Savant (Entrepreneurs in Residence) EIRs and experienced business advisors
- Develops a business model and go-to-market-strategy
Apart from an extensive training programme, the EIRs help support the IIRs in developing their innovation. Savant supports the IIRs commercially, with the goal of establishing sustainable technology businesses. As an added benefit, all of the IIRs are supported financially during the programme.
The IIR incubation programme is similar to Savant’s client incubation, but has two extra benefits.
- Firstly, IIRs are based at Savant, increasing the support and interaction with EIRs and experienced Savant business advisors.
- Secondly, the programme provides a monthly stipend that will allow these innovators to focus on developing their businesses, so they don’t have to worry about how to support their basic needs while doing so.
The programme produces IIR graduates that are fully trained and in command of their own businesses. These businesses are then expected to employ people and generate economic value, and ultimately benefit the broader economy.
We are so pleased to introduce our first two IIRs, Ipeleng and Ryno, who joined the IIR programme this year.
“Savant provided me with a unique opportunity for understanding the business case and the go-to market strategy for my invention.”
Ipeleng Mathebula is a professionally registered mechanical engineer with a masters degree from the University of Pretoria – and a part-time lecturer for postgraduate students at Wits. He has over 10 years’ experience spanning several fields, including power generation for Eskom, research and development for the CSIR as well as mobility relating to combustion engines at Boost Mechanics. He has been granted two patent families for a high pressure gas coupling (CSIR) and efficient turbocharger (Boost Mechanics) both of which were invented by him.
Ipeleng founded Boost Mechanics to develop domain expertise and commercialisation experience. Boost Mechanics is currently a Savant Technology Incubator portfolio company. As part of the portfolio, Boost Mechanics also receives pre-seed funding from TIA, which is being used to develop a market sample for piloting the innovation with prospective clients. On the other hand, the IIR programme is where Ipeleng’s entrepreneurial skills are being deployed to demonstrate the efficient turbocharger, and co-create new energy efficiency innovations and processes with Sibanye-Stillwater.
Dr. Ryno Pretorius is a chemical engineer and process designer by training. He has leveraged his skills to start his engineering consulting and product development company, Free Radical Process Design – FRPD. FRPD provides a commercialisation platform for multiple patented technologies, and provides a unique skillset to provide consulting customers with process designs and commercialisation advice. His technical specialisation includes electrochemistry, hydrometallurgy, fluorination, metal production and process design/integration.
As an IIR, Ryno will bring his expertise in technology development, process design and commercialisation to the Savant team. He will assist with technical due diligence and assist start-ups climb the technology readiness ladder.
When asked about his participation in Savant’s IIR programme, Ryno said;
“Savant’s IIR programme is ideally positioned to address challenges associated with the South African innovation landscape. As a young entrepreneur in the process of commercialising engineering-heavy, technology driven technology, I learnt a lot about the commercialisation process. I find it rewarding to share this knowledge with other up-and-coming innovators and pass on my hard-won knowledge. The structured programmes and support offered by Savant in the IIR programme fosters an ecosystem where innovators can thrive and allow their ideas to flourish into businesses.”