Matie ingenieurs wen Nasionale Innovasie Kompetisie by monkey6

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									Matie engineers win National Innovation Competition

Matie engineers took top honours as well as second place in the annual National Innovation
Competition (NIC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Dr. Wernich de Villiers, a
postdoctoral student in engineering, took first prize for his portable measuring instrument for the
maintenance of the Line Trap – a component of the communication system on high voltage power
lines. Former Matie Gerrit Smith was awarded second place for a submersible water pump that
works with solar power.

The prize-giving ceremony, which was held in Kyalami, Johannesburg, was addressed by Mr
Mosibudi Mangena, the Minister of Science and Technology.

De Villiers received R300 000 for his invention. He may use this money to market his patent
worldwide. He also won the institutional leg of the competition at Stellenbosch University, for which
he received R50 000. Smith won R200 000, which he is planning to use to do further research on
the invention. In both cases, 25% of the prize money goes to the relevant academic departments.

Regarding his achievement, De Villiers says that the credit should go to the support structures at
the University, which are of high-standing quality. “In addition to the support that I received from
InnovUS, the University’s division that supports innovation, a great deal of honour is due to my
supervisor and co-inventor, Prof. Johannes Cloete of the Department of Electrical and Electronic
Engineering.”

He says he believes that the innovation associated with the Line Trap Tester will make a great
difference to the way in which the Line Trap (part of the specialised communication system on high
voltage power lines) is maintained – not only in South Africa, but worldwide. “The method is not
only safer, but also means that this important subsystem can be tested more regularly without
interrupting the power supply,” says De Villiers.

“I am also indebted to the Innovation Fund for the incredible opportunity I now have to take part in
an international competition and thereby introduce the innovation all over the world.”

Gerrit Smith’s business plan makes provision for the development of a submersible solar water
pump. During the development of the pump, input also came from another former Matie, Johannes
Strauss. Smith currently works for Bhukka, a firm of petrochemical engineering consultants.

One of the applications of the pump is that it can be used in rural areas as an alternative to wind
pumps. Not only does the pump have many fewer rotating parts, as are found in traditional pumps,
but it can be submerged in wells, where it can be in contact with water all the time. The fact that
the pump works with solar power means that it is highly suited to South African conditions.

According to Prof Liesbeth Botha, Executive Director: Innovation and Commercialisation, the fact
that these students won first and second prizes confirms the University’s status as a
technologically innovative university. (In 2005 the University was designated the Technologically
Most Innovative University by the Department of Science and Technology’s Innovation Fund). “This
emphasises the entrepreneurial and innovative approach that increasingly is being encouraged
among our students, particularly in the so-called SET faculties such as engineering, where these
two prize-winning business plans were developed.”

Third place was awarded to three students of the University of Cape Town, who developed a
personal tracking device. Nineteen of the 22 higher education institutions in South Africa took part
in the competition.

Contact details:
Wernich de Villiers, wdevilrs@sun.ac.za, Tel 021 808 3451, Cell 083 724 1060
Gerrit Smith & Johannes Strauss, grsmith@bhukka.co.za, Cell 082 660 4247
Additional information


PRESS RELEASE
DATE: Friday, July 14, 2006                                                   For immediate release


TOP STUDENT INNOVATIONS BATTLE IT OUT FOR SA’s RICHEST PURSE

The winners of the INNOVATION FUND’s National Innovation Competition were announced during a
glittering awards function in Johannesburg yesterday evening.

Top honours went to Wernich De Villiers of the University of Stellenbosch whose Line Trap Tester will have a
substantial beneficial impact on the High Voltage (HV) Power Line Carrier (PLC) maintenance industry
worldwide, and will greatly benefit power utility companies.

Gerrit Smith and Johannes Strauss were awarded second place for their innovative Solar Submersible Water
Pump, another entry from the University of Stellenbosch. Their objective is to develop a range of solar water
pumps to cater for all possible customer needs, and simultaneously establish the strongest, most effective
marketing, distribution and service network in South Africa.

Third position went to a team from the University of Cape Town for their Next Generation Personal Tracking
Device. Using proven, the product allows a user to track anything via the internet with his/her own cell phone.

The winners faced stiff competition from entries received from students representing 19 of South Africa’s 22
Higher Education Institutions. The entries, which were showcased at the venue, mostly addressed actual
South African issues, and covered a diverse range of topics - from nutrition, security and elections to energy.

The purpose of the competition is to promote entrepreneurship through the commercialisation of the
innovative ideas of young entrepreneurs. During the Institutional Phase of the competition, students compete
at university level, and the top three student business plans are then entered into the National Phase of the
competition, where all the top three student business plans, generated during the Institutional Phase,
compete against each other for the grand national prize, which includes a funded trip abroad to participate in
an international innovation competition.



In his welcoming address Dr Eugene Lottering, Executive Director of the Innovation Fund said: “Innovation is
not just about great ideas, pushing the boundaries of engineering and medical science or instilling national
pride – In fact, I’d go so far as saying that innovation can only really be considered great if it is translatable
into tangible products and services.

“In keeping with our strong technology commercialisation thrust, participation in this competition is through
submission of a business plan. We acknowledge that this is a challenging aspect, as for many students it
was probably the first time in compiling such a document, let alone understanding new terminology!”

Addressing the finalists he said that the Innovation Fund management strongly believed that it was one of
the best introductions to the working world they would be facing one day, where their inventions would come
under the same scrutiny of marketing, finance, operations and legal teams who would judge them not just on
their innovation, but on its potential to generate revenue and have impact.

Dr Lottering had a special word for the coordinators, lecturing staff and technology transfer offices that
assisted in the process of mentoring and identifying the winners. “We pay tribute to you, the unsung heroes
of this competition, working in the background, often till late and with little recognition,” he said, “without you
the National Innovation Competition could never be the success it has been to date.”

In his keynote address the Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, congratulated the
Innovation Fund for putting together the National Innovation Competition Awards, and for structuring the
awards in such a way that they specifically target participation by our country’s higher education institutions
where new ideas and innovations are generated. “This is the most effective route to develop a more
research-focused skills base that can move South Africa towards a knowledge economy,” he said.

Addressing the participants, Mr Mangena said that they were all winners. “They all stand head and shoulders
above the rest in that they decided to develop something new as their contribution to world civilisation,” he
said. He also commended the institutions of higher learning and the academics “that have tirelessly
supported” the participants.

(ends)


Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund (IF) is a policy instrument of the Department of Science & Technology, managed by the National
Research Foundation (NRF). The IF invests in end-stage research where the research knowledge holds expertise to be
translated into new and improved products, processes and services. The objectives of the IF are to promote
technological innovation, promote and increase networking and cross-sector collaboration within the national system of
innovation, improve and sustain the quality of life of all South Africans and to strengthen the country's economic
competitiveness in the international sphere. The Innovation Fund is a one-stop shop for R & D funding, technology
transfer and intellectual property management. It spans the innovation chasm, developing and exploiting knowledge to
South Africa's benefit.
www.innovationfund.ac.za

About the National Innovation Competition (NIC)
The competition is run by the Innovation Fund of the Department of Science and Technology. It is aimed at promoting a
culture of entrepreneurship through technology innovation among South Africa's youth.

Students' technological inventions are required to be of commercial value as demonstrated by submission of a detailed
business plan. Government has identified the importance of technology innovation in contributing to the economy and the
creation of wealth for the nation. The NIC in a small way is contributing to this important mandate by stimulating youth to
think creatively, innovatively!


For further information, photographs or interview opportunities contact:
Natascha Uberbacher: Innovation Fund Marketing and Communications Manager
Tel:     012 481 4283 0r 072 531 9717
Email: natascha@nrf.ac.za

								
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