Three top South African cleantech innovators participated in the Cleantech Open Global Forum in Los Angeles at the end of January 2018. They joined other top GCIP entrepreneurs from around the world to celebrate the progress, achievements and successes of clean technology innovation in addressing global environmental and sustainability challenges, and to share ideas and solutions.
The Global Forum forms part of the annual Cleantech week, a confluence of the cleantech industry and the climate movement that aims to create new business opportunities by cultivating partnerships within the cleantech innovation space.
The trip to Los Angeles was part of the prize package received by 2017 GCIP-SA winner Bandile Dlabantu and runners-up Sara Andreotti and Euodia Naanyane-Bouwer at the national GCIP gala event in November last year.
Naanyane-Bouwer received a special category commendation at the Forum for social impact for the reusable, biodegradable Gracious Nubian sanitary pads. These pads are aimed at addressing the high cost of sanitary pads, which keeps two-thirds of girls in rural areas out of school during menstruation, while also reducing the impact of disposable sanitary pads on landfill sites and water treatment plants. Naanyane-Bouwer was able to create valuable connections with several investors whom she hopes will bear fruit in the future.
This year’s Global Forum winner was Saathi from India, which also developed a technology to produce 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads, but made from waste banana tree fibre.
The innovations of the other two South African participants also generated significant peer and investor interest at the Global Forum. Dlabantu developed a modular insect bioconversion unit for the production of the insect-based protein Khepri Meal made from organic waste. The meal is specifically useful for the feeding of chickens, pigs and fish.
Dr Sara Andreotti represented the eco-friendly SharkSafe Barrier, which keeps sharks separated from swimmers and surfers, addressing losses in terms of human and marine life and tourism revenue. The SharkSafe Barrier bio-mimics the visual appearance of a kelp forest and creates an electro-magnetic field to deter sharks without harming the sharks or other marine life.
The GCIP-SA was incorporated into the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) on 1 January 2018, after four years as a highly successful donor-funded project. Launched in 2014, the programme was jointly implemented by UNIDO and TIA, with funding from the Global Environment Facility and US-based Cleantech Open as the main knowledge partner. Over the past four years, it has directly supported 102 entrepreneurial teams countrywide through its Business Accelerator process. Each startup involved receives training, mentoring, and promotion, and is put in contact with potential investors, customers and partners through participation in the programme.
UNIDO Director General, LI Yong, thanked the entrepreneurs and innovators “for the transformative impact that your innovations are having, and for their contribution to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals relating to clean energy and to green industry, innovation and infrastructure.”