It’s been at least six months since four Savant-partnered ventures out of seven Western Cape ventures received grants of up to half a million rand each from the second round of the Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF). They are moving ahead swiftly with their cutting-edge innovations which will lead to major advancements in the region’s agri-processing, health and bio-tech sectors.

The DISF is a project of the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) with investment and management funds respectively provided by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The Fund is being managed by the CDI’s subsidiary CDI Capital, the CDI’s investment entity. Savant submitted four ventures to the programme, all of which were awarded seed funding.

CDI Capital’s coordinator Ryan Rhode adds that the work ethic, talent and skills of the entrepreneurs in this project as well as the support of MBA students from Savant’s “Entrepreneurs in Residence” programme and commercial product consultancy and development firms such as BMEC and Skeg have made the DISF project a delight to manage, not to mention the technical support offered by the DISF Investment Committee.”

Here is the latest on the Savant-partnered innovations:

MicroPatch by Incitech – a one-step transdermal rapid HIV test suitable for both professional and home use. It has been designed to make rapid testing easier and more accessible. A custom blood extraction system has been designed and proven to be successful, which has allowed Incitech to progress to the rapid prototyping phase. A further R50,000 grant award has also been secured from the SAB Foundation Seed Fund to assist with various aspects of Incitech’s development.

Loretta Magagula of Incitech says: “The development of a medical device requires significant investment and relatively long development timeframes as several regulatory procedures must be concluded before market entry. Unlike conventional funds, the Seed Fund is cognisant of these extended lead times during technology development and commercialisation within the biomedical industry.

The DISF fund has not only given Incitech the capital to assist with the prototype development of the MicroPatch, our novel HIV-self testing device, it has also created opportunities for our company to interact with relevant stakeholders and investors within the technology innovation ecosystem. Incitech has also had a positive experience of working with CDI Capital, as they have been incredibly efficient and accommodating, contributing to the acceleration of our project.”

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SmartBlade Video Laryngoscope by SmartBlade – the SmartBlade is video laryngoscope which harnesses smartphone technology to provide a guided indirect view of endotracheal intubation. The software development and the sample production run are almost complete. A leading academic medical expert in airway technology has begun independent trials on the device after viewing it and showing great interest in its capabilities. The next step will see more trial units manufactured to improve technology demonstration and validation.

Nick Nevin of SmartBlade says: “The DISF afforded SmartBlade the opportunity to fully develop and finalise a saleable prototype, as well as produce a number of devices and engineer a smartphone app for beta testing. Without this assistance, SmartBlade and its invaluable technology would still be a mere 3D print with enormous potential. The structured reporting frameworks at CDI Capital and the mandatory financial accountability also provided us as inventors with valuable insight into the systems ultimately required for a successful business.”

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Water soluble liquid oak extracts by LiQuerc (formerly Oranet) – a liquid wood extract that will reduce and has the potential to replace the use of conventional barrels in the wine industry. LiQuerc has commenced an extensive trial with the University of Stellenbosch Oenology department to independently and scientifically verify the performance of the product – to replicate the wood maturation and structuring effect of barrels and staves provided by its liquid wood product. LiQuerc has concluded one successful trial and has commenced a second commercial maturation and structuring trial with a prominent wine producer in the Stellenbosch area.

Once packaging development has been concluded, a product education campaign will be launched in the form of winemaker forums to be hosted by past loyal customers who have been early adopters (and loyal customers since) of LiQuerc’s product to discuss how they have used the product and what the outcomes were.

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DNABurn by Signal Biotechnology – has identified a novel approach to developing a safe, stimulant free weight loss supplement. The necessary equipment has been acquired for the foundation of a live cell culture model in which to conduct the downstream work. Their next step will be to work with cultures of an appropriate living human cell line for gene expression analysis and dose determination.

Signal Bioscience was also selected for participation in the Swiss SA Advanced Technology Entrepreneur workshop, which was exceptionally useful in gaining exposure to various essential start-up elements and as additional venture capital pitching preparation.

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This is an adaptation from an article entitled, “DISF recipients make strides with their innovations” on the CDI website.

Savant DISF Progress Stakeholder Logos