ELIDZ empowers local innovators

The East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) is fast becoming the breeding ground for new industrial technology development and innovation through its Science and Technology Park (STP). Since it was launched two years ago, the park has assisted in the development of 3 prototypes that are now at a stage of commercialisation.

The park focuses on the development and operation of innovation platforms, based on collaboration between government, business and institutions of higher learning as well as the community in an attempt to harness and support the development of new manufacturing capabilities that will have a catalytic effect on Eastern Cape’s industrial landscape.

One of the key initiatives within the ELIDZ STP has been assisting locally based innovators in the development, testing and patenting of new prototypes.

Amahlathi Eco Tech, an innovative Eastern Cape owned renewable enterprise is one example of support by the ELIDZ STP. The company has developed a geyser power-saving solution called the Hot Spot – a sleeve like device retrofitted over any standard geyser element to push hot water from the bottom of a geyser to the top using thermosiphon. This device gives a standard household geyser the capability of providing 50 litres of hot water within 30 minutes at 50°C .

The ELIDZ has facilitated access to funding for Amahlathi Eco Tech’s through its partnerships with entities such as the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, the Technology Innovation Agency and The Innovation Hub. It has also provided facilities, within its precinct to house and showcase the innovations.

One of three directors at Amahlathi Eco Tech, Sandiswa Qayi, says the ELIDZ STP has played a tremendous role in mobilizing stakeholders, unlocking funding, offering research support as well as patenting the company’s technology.

“The product is now patented, we are currently testing the device performance and are rolling out our residential testing of the product”, she says, adding that being housed within the ELIDZ STP has given the company the ability to showcase its product to potential funders and customers.

Another innovator, supported by the STP is ShirlCorp, a company that has set out to improve safety on the road through the introduction of a two-part system that would give drivers a view of what is ahead on the road without putting themselves and other road users at risk.

Speaking about the innovation, aptly named Safe Pass, inventor Barrington Shirley, said the innovation was inspired by his own frustration of being stuck on the road behind a slow-moving truck or bus. “I kept on thinking that there must be a better way of solving this problem within putting lives at risk,” says Shirley. The innovation involves the installation of camera systems into trucks which would, in turn be linked to a smart phone application that would allow users to have at least a 50metres view of what is ahead of the truck or bus to allow for safe overtaking.

“The ELIDZ STP assisted us in registering the patent for our innovation and being housed in the STP has provided us with an environment where we can feed off the creative energies of other innovators and access research support and funding opportunities,” says Barrington, adding that the company had already done field trials on the innovation.

ELIDZ STP Operations Manager, Ludwe Fanie says the organization was excited about being the hub for development and incubation of strategic innovations, technologies and skills.  “Not only does the ELIDZ STP increase the zone’s capabilities to support industrial development, it plays a fundamental role in assisting the provincial industrial economy to leverage new value and competitiveness from its human capital and knowledge assets”, says Fanie.

Not only does the ELIDZ STP also afford new start-ups an opportunity to test their innovations, develop prototypes and package their products for commercialization, it also assists existing local industries to increase their competitiveness, efficiency and effectiveness through innovative support offerings.

In the last year the STP has achieved a number of strides including:

  • Launching a first of its Kind Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence which in 2015/16 trained 150 artisans in different areas of Renewable Energy
  • Being the home to 3 business incubators with one in Chemical space and two in Information Communications Technology (ICT) sectors (Chemin, ECITI and Cortex Hub).
  • Hosting the incubation of 94 SMMEs in the Chemical industry, 21 companies in the ICT sector and some of the brightest brains in ICT software development.
  • Supporting 22 entrepreneurs showcase their innovations on the Open Innovation Platform.
  • 1 entrepreneur was supported to develop a global market access strategy through linkages with a global innovation network.
  • Enabling 4 innovation solution seekers to find 26 innovation solutions through the Open Innovation Network