Change the world


From spinach bread, a geyser sleeve saving electricity and a culturally aligned eye assessment app for young children to solar panels - inventors and entrepreneurs shared their stories and tips at the local celebration of World Intellectual Property Day hosted at Mandela University on 26 April.

Some 80 students, staff and school learners attended the IP Talk Property Day, hosted by the University’s Innovation Office in collaboration with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC); Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)

The representatives of these bodies all shared their knowledge about the importance and know-how to create and protect ideas and knowledge from others copying them, how to patent, trademark and commercialise it successfully and how to obtain funding for realising inventions.  

The national theme for this year’s World Intellectual Property Day was Women and Intellectual Property. It was mentioned that only 16% of patent applications are done by women in South Africa, although there are more women than men in the country. And yet the inventor of ice cream was a woman, Nancy Johnson and South Africa’s own artist Esther Mahlangu is an inventor of note, partnering with BMW, with her designs. 

Innovation is the primary driver for technology growth and leading to higher living standards and 50% to 80% of economic growth depend on new ideas. But most importantly, it was emphasised that ideas should not be shared with anyone, otherwise your secret will be stolen or copied. The forerunners in new ideas in the world are China, the USA, Korea, and Japan.

“We are importing cheaper cars to give more South Africans access to their own car but why has South Africa not invented its own car yet?”, Thabang Jase from NIPMO remarked.  

Dr Nqobile Gumede Director of Mandela University’s Innovation Office shared their role to find partners and assist University researchers to patent their research and technology.

Innovolve is the University’s commercialisation company driving innovation through the licensing of IP and the establishment of spin-out companies. The Propella Business Incubator, a collaboration between the University, the Industrial Development Corporation and the private sector, supports innovators, especially in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related technologies, advanced manufacturing and supply chain optimisation.

The well-known MaXhosa colourful knitted traditional clothing brand of Mandela alumnus Laduma Ngxholo was initiated through the Innovation Office. Another company with the University as partner is Rubber Nano products for the curing of rubber and PVinsight who does testing and consulting services for PV systems.

Sandiswa Qayi, Managing Director from AET Africa, shared her innovation, a geyser sleeve for spiral element geysers to quickly heat enough water for one shower, instead of the geyser having to heat up all its contents, saving 20% on the electricity costs.

“There are lots of hoops to jump through but hold on to your idea and keep on going”, she said. Dr Jaqui Crozier from PVinsight emphasised the importance of outsourcing to others to focus on the core business, for example, the company’s bookkeeping.  

Dr Naimah Khan from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal shared her research innovation Bona (Basic Ocular Ngane Assessment) pediatric vision screening app, culturally aligned screening app, which can alert within six minutes whether a child should have an eye test. “Sixty per cent of eye problems can be corrected if they are detected in early childhood, yet only 20% of children in South Africa who need spectacles, have access to them”, she said. Her message was also to keep your secrets close to your heart.  

And then there was the Spinach King Lufefe Nomjana, who started in Khayelitsha and now sells his spinach bread all over South Africa.

Several entrepreneurs exhibited their innovations in the foyer including representatives from the University’s InnoVenton, with their formulation science skin products. 

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160