People 'n' Issues

hearScreen gets another honour

November 3rd, 2015
A smartphone hearing test for the detection of hearing problems in underserved communities, called hearScreen, has been honoured for the second time in a few weeks.

The solution was named a finalist in the Philips Innovation Fellows Competition for startups announced last month.

It is now also among the winners of the second annual SA Innovation Awards, in partnership with Business Connexion and Business Day, announced during the MyWorld of Tomorrow expo at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg last week The awards programme is aimed at recognising and celebrating innovative African companies and individuals.

“In the old days it was the large companies that could set up research and development houses, and could be the leaders in innovation that benefited most,” said Matthew Blewett, chief investment officer at Business Connexion. “But it’s changing now – we are seeing the democratisation of innovation. That’s because today you can innovate by having an internet connection and you can even fund yourself through various methods. That is why we launched the SA Innovation Awards – to provide a platform for African innovators, big or small, to showcase how they are bringing great local ideas to life. It’s our way of recognising and celebrating innovation.”

“All industries should be looking at technology as a mechanism of improving efficiencies, operational effectiveness as well as their competitiveness,” said Dr Sibongile Gumbi, one of this year’s SA Innovation Awards judges and group executive at the Technology Innovation Agency. “It is important to embrace technology and in the end see these innovations in the market.”

Songezo Zibi, editor of Business Day and SA Innovations Awards judge, commented: “As much as Africa’s enormous economic potential is recognised, it is only through successful innovations on varying scales that this potential is realised and sustained. I am honoured to have been part of promoting the SA Innovation Awards; it is a valuable tool that we as Business Day support, and look forward to seeing further innovative ideas for our economy.”

The winners as adjudicated by a panel of judges and audited by Mazars (in alphabetical order) are:

Collaborative Innovation: Barclays Africa Group

Created by Barclays and launched in 2014, ‘Rise’ is a global community for open innovation designed to pioneer the future of financial services through technology. It has been created to plug start-ups, corporates and innovators into a global network to enable them to connect, co-create, and scale the ‘next big thing’ in financial services. ‘Rise’ hosts numerous open innovation programmes, including the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstarts at select locations in New York, London, Manchester and in Africa.

Since launching, ‘Rise’ has established multiple partnerships and proofs of concept in order to make Barclays more competitive, as well as support the ecosystem by providing time, expertise and resources with the help of Barclays’ senior executive mentors, industry experts and subject matter expert mentors and funding of up to $100,000 per venture.

Community Innovation: hearScreen

hearScreen offers a solution for the detection of hearing problems in underserved communities utilising generalist community health workers equipped with mobile phones. This allows the decentralised health care at grass roots level.

The patented hearScreen smartphone hearing test, developed and validated at the University of Pretoria, is the first solution for hearing tests operated by untrained personnel with cloud based data management and a referral system that links patients to services.

Corporate Innovation: Resolve Capacity, a division of Resolve Solution Partners, an Imperial Group company

The Clinic-in-a-box solution provides a ready-to-use clinic which has sections for consultations, drugs storage and dispensing and record keeping providing an all-in-one solution without the need for multiple facilities. The units do not have to have a concrete base or slab for installation and can be disassembled and moved if necessary.

This innovation provides affordable quality healthcare to the African continent’s most vulnerable people living in the remotest of places.

Hall of Fame: Vuselela Energy

The Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting power plant is a clean energy power plant based at the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelting Complex near Rustenburg in the North West Province. The plant uses waste heat from the convertor cooling circuit at the smelter to generate 4.3MW of electricity which is used by the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelter for its general power consumption. Developed by Vuselela Energy in collaboration with Anglo Platinum, the plant was commissioned in June 2015.

It is the world’s first power plant of its kind and is a reflection of true innovation in the field of energy efficiency.

SMME Innovation: Enviro Options

The Enviro Loo is an innovative, dry sanitation solution that addresses the factors that inhibit the installation of safe, sustainable sanitation. It operates through a process of dehydration and evaporation, occurring naturally through the use of the sun, gravity and wind. The system has zero environmental impact, as it uses no water or chemicals, and the decomposition of the waste takes place in a sealed unit, thus ensuring no water or ground contamination can occur.

Although the toilet system is waterless, there has been provision in the design to provide hand washing and hygiene facilities through the installation of rain water via a collection tank. Using solar technology, the unit is able to power an electric light and fan, not only improving the processing throughout the unit but also providing a dignified experience.

SMME Innovator: Jacques Malan, Director at Eternity Power and Vuselela Energy

Jacques is a Pyro-Metallurgical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the ferrous, base metals, ferro-alloy and refractory industries. His experience includes research and process design through to commissioning and operation of metallurgical plants in South Africa and internationally. Throughout his career, Jacques has specialised in the development of new processes for NICE applications and has authored a number of publications in the metallurgical field.

He was also responsible for the establishment of the first construction design and management compliant Waste Gas to Energy plant in the worldwide Ferro-Alloy industry, a 17MW plant at international Ferro Metals.

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