Savant’s investment activity is in line with trends highlighted in SAVCA’s survey of the South African Venture Capital landscape.
The Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) recently released its annual survey for the 2020 year, which highlights deal activity of VC and similar early stage investments into mainly South African businesses in 2020. The survey shows that, notwithstanding the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, capital deployed by VC companies in 2020 increased by 13%, constituting “the highest capital amount deployed into the [VC] sector since [SAVCA] began surveying the VC industry in 2010”.
In line with this, Savant saw an increased number of investments from the period surveyed to date with R18+ million deployed into five companies: Astrofica Technologies, Vekta Innovations, Cognitive Systems, Inxor and Renewco. The Savant Venture Fund focuses on investing in early-stage technology companies with protectable IP and sustainable competitive advantage.
Astrofica Technologies aims to build an African-owned (and controlled) satellite constellation that offers highly accurate, real-time earth observation data to a multitude of local and international clients seeking actionable information that impacts their business operations. Its multi-utilitarian product and service offering is scalable within and across sectors.
Vekta Innovations has developed a novel fitness and health management solution that is used in industrial and professional sports settings. The KineDek is an automated physical-condition monitoring, rehabilitation and strengthening Machine. The cloud-based DEMS enables data sharing between key players in the health, fitness, insurance, information technology and stakeholders in other related industrial sectors.
Renewco is an entity establish to build, own and operate small scale utility power generation and waste management capacity in the local market. Initial projects based on Biogas technology offers an end-to-end, environmentally-friendly and sustainable waste management solution with no / or minimal waste to landfill.
Cognitive Systems is an Artificial Intelligence company that has built an AI engine – the Artificial Mind Engine or AME – on which specific AI solutions can be built. As such they essentially compete with (or provide an alternative to) the likes of Amazon AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure and others.
Inxor is an advertising technology provider that replaces the traditional price pole with an intelligent brand engagement solution. The brand engagement solution provides access to mobile payment providers for easy integration and collects customer purchase data in real-time.
”Savant is happy to take the early stage investment risk that other investors won’t – filling a crucial gap in the ecosystem.
Nick AllenManaging Partner
Savant Venture Fund’s Nick Allen explains the fund’s approach to investing: “One of Savant’s approaches is to invest small amounts of up to R 1.5 million at a very early stage in order to prepare companies for going to market and ensure they are investment ready. This ensures we have a consistent pipeline of investable deals that we can invest significantly more into. This helps us lower risk and build a broader portfolio. We love innovators that build hardware that makes a difference. In other words: Real products that solve problems.”
The investments mentioned above are a demonstration of Savant’s mandate and approach – invest in science and engineering innovations with a hardware component. When Savant sees very early stage innovations that the team is excited about, it invests Incubator Facility (pre-VC funding of up to R1.5 million) and supports those businesses to get to the point where Savant can follow that initial investment with a larger cheque from the main fund. All the companies mentioned above have received funding and support from the Incubator and most will go on to a larger investment from the main fund.