Port Elizabeth business incubation heavy-weights, Propella Business Incubator, were very well represented at this year’s SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, held on the evening of 27 October, after two of their incubatees walked away with Social Innovation Seed Grant Awards – each receiving R150,000.
“The Technology Innovation Agency has shown great foresight and leadership in recognising the potential our innovators hold for others who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to access products and services that bring improvement to their lives,” said Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Manager.
SAB celebrates innovative, entrepreneurial minds that encompass the ever-changing and developing health, education, energy, water and sanitation, livelihoods, and sustainable agriculture sectors. Foundations such as SAB help improve the lives of their primary beneficiaries which includes women, the youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas.
Heinrich Williams, a quadriplegic and industrial engineering Masters graduate, was referred to Propella for support in the commercialisation process of his product. He has developed a bell for people with disabilities and reduced motor function to alert caregivers when they require help. It is called a Qbell. He worked closely with design engineers from eNTSA (NMMU) and with support from The Innovation Office at the university, run by Jaci Barnett.
“We are very proud of the progress he has made in such short time and the acceleration from delivery to market perspective,” said Barnett.
The Qbell will ensure that the most vulnerable group of patients within our health care system can claim back their identity and independence as well as creating a sense of security due to them being able to call for assistance themselves.
Thulisile Volwana and Sabelo Sibanda, from Tuse, are the founders of an android application that allows people to communicate freely without the need for traditional telecommunication infrastructure. The app has the potential to empower communities, to change the way municipalities communicate with residents and to help businesses be more efficient
The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards were given a big boost this year following the conclusion of a new partnership with the Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA) that will see a multimillion rand in kind contribution to support the growth of local entrepreneurs and their innovations.