After four days of igniting, innovating and accelerating opportunities to take our country and its innovators to the next level; South Africa’s favourite innovation conference, the SABC Education SA Innovation Summit 2016, concluded on Saturday, 24 September 2016. The Summit mesmerised delegates by hosting various activities such as the Market on the Edge, the Inventor’s Garage, CEO panel discussions and the Ventureburn Pitching Den at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni from Thursday, 21 to Saturday, 24 September 2016.

“A key takeaway from the Summit is that there are a lot of opportunities in this country. All that we need to do is keep innovating and tap into our networks, such as the ones provided by the Summit,” says Audrey Verhaeghe, chairperson of the SABC Education SA Innovation Summit 2016.

One of the highlights of the conference was the Ventureburn Pitching Den. The pitching den provided bright startups with an opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of judges. After two successful days of presentations, was awarded the winning pitch at the award ceremony. is a platform that provides professional feedback for creative concepts, in order for businesses or individuals to test the effectiveness of their concept before launching it.

CAPTION: Trevor Wolfe, winner of the Ventureburn Pitching Den, will be taking to the Startup World Cup 2017 in San Francisco. [Photo credit: Vaughan Seale]

Trevor Wolfe, the brainchild behind, will be representing South Africa at the Startup World Cup 2017, hosted by Fenox Venture Capital, in Silicon Valley, San Francisco on Friday, 24 March 2017. “In order to be considered for the Startup World Cup, Pitching Den finalists were evaluated according to their scalability, possible revenue, marketing strategy and expertise. fulfils all of these requirements,” says Azola Lojitza, SABC Education SA Innovation Summit coordinator.

Delegates were also introduced to paradigm-shifting ideas, products and prototypes of the top 30 finalists that participated in the Inventors Garage Competition. The overall winner of the Competition was the hearScreen smartphone application (app), designed by Nic Klopper, who won R10 000 in prize money to further his invention. The hearScreen app provides a mobile health solution for the early detection of hearing loss.

An additional prize was awarded by Innovation Edge, a social innovation fund that assists underprivileged children aged between three months and five years old. The organisation awarded R20 000 to Grade 11 student, Clarice Greyling, for compiling a box of educational materials that aims to teach young children about maths, science, technology and engineering in a fun way; while adhering to the South African school curriculum. The materials used are mostly made up of upcycled rubbish and is accompanied by a teacher’s manual.

“The youth was a definite focus point at the 2016 Summit,” says Verhaeghe. Educational activities that took place at the Summit aimed to stimulate innovation from a young age and included fun events such as: an interactive ‘MatheMagics’ show that teaches children about math in an exciting way; a Lego future city development area where young and old got together to build their idea of a future aerotropolis (a city developed around an airport); and a Lego robotics challenge to teach children critical thinking skills.

“Taking our future into account by concentrating on our youth led us to focus on green innovation as well,” explains Verhaeghe. “Thought leaders addressed the importance of finding sustainable and feasible environmentally-friendly solutions for business and the global society,” she continues. Chanru Wadhwani, Joint Managing Director of Extrupet (the largest and most advanced recycler of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle materials on the African continent), highlighted the fact that innovation has to be meaningful and sustainable. “Meaningful innovation is needed to ensure that solutions are scaled to address the growing environmental issues and problems that we are faced with; most importantly, it has to factor in efficiency,” says Wadhwani. “Luckily, events such as the SA Innovation Summit provide a platform where critical issues, such as the need for innovative green solutions, can be brought up and addressed,” he adds.

“This year was a very exciting year for us,” says Verhaeghe. “The 2016 Summit hosted very interesting discussions touching on the future of innovation in South Africa and provided exciting new possibilities to accelerate meaningful change.  We look forward to a bigger and better Summit in 2017!” concludes Verhaeghe.