Media Releases

Wednesday, 9 April 2014: The MEC for Economic Development (GDED), Mxolisi Eric Xayiya along with the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, toured the construction site of the BioPark at The Innovation Hub, in Tshwane, on Tuesday 8 April 2014.

Scheduled for completion at the end of May 2014, with occupation by start-up companies, the BioPark project has been a strategic project of the Gauteng Provincial Government since 2009, when GDARD led the development of a feasibility study.

Speaking at the site visit, MEC Mayathula-Khoza recognised the support of previous MECs for Economic Development, Qedani Mahlangu and the late Hon. Nkosiphendule Kolisile as well as the current MEC, Mxolisi Xayiya for ensuring that The Innovation Hub pursued the project to this stage. The Innovation Hub is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, an implementation agency of GDED. She noted “I am pleased that Phase 1 of the BioPark will focus on stimulating entrepreneurship and value creation in the agro-processing sector, as it offers great prospects for job creation and food security.”

MEC Xayiya, in turn, praised his counterpart for having laid a solid foundation and providing seed funding that facilitated the development of the feasibility study, the business plan as well as architectural designs that were used to apply for funding.

The BioPark plans to position Gauteng as the gateway of agro processed products to rest of Africa and the world; expand local and export supply of biosciences products and services for economic growth and job creation and to strengthen Tshwane as an anchor for the biosciences cluster in Gauteng amongst other objectives. Speaking during the tour, Xayiya said “The BioPark is a good example of a partnership between provincial government departments, their entities and the national government in support of entrepreneurs. In this case, we are excited by the fact that the BioPark will also be home to the Climate Innovation Centre, which will focus on the environmental aspects of the Bioeconomy.”

Following the feasibility study, the Gauteng cabinet resolved that GDED and GDARD should proceed with the development of a business plan for the establishment of the BioPark at The Innovation Hub. A Business Plan was subsequently developed by The Innovation Hub. In 2013, The Innovation Hub partnered with eGoliBio (its biosciences incubation partner), GGDA and GDARD in its successful bid for funding from the dti’s Incubation Support Programme (ISP).

The BioPark will focus on supporting the development of the Bioeconomy sector in Gauteng. It also aims to enhance multiple helix collaboration (government, public research and industry collaboration) as well as to develop and grow a biosciences cluster anchored at The Innovation Hub.

Phase 1 and part of Phase 2 are funded by the dti’s ISP and the GGDA. Phase 1, which is currently under construction, will accommodate food / bio-processing companies and the Climate Innovation Centre (CIC), another flagship project of the Gauteng provincial government and the Green Accord. Phase 2 involves the provision of facilities for pharmaceutical, cosmetics and diagnostic companies. Start-up companies in the BioPark will be supported through a biotechnology incubation programme that is anchored on the successes of both eGoliBIO and The Innovation Hub’s Maxum incubation programmes.

Senior officials from the Department of Science and Technology and its agency, Technology Innovation Agency, Ben Durham and Dr Sibongile Gumbi, respectively, also briefed both MECs on the importance of the BioPark for the implementation of the 2013 National Bioeconomy Strategy unveiled by Minister Hanekom earlier this year. Both MECs expressed excitement about the progress that has been made towards realising the vision of the BioPark and in particular its critical role towards ensuring delivery on the agriculture, health, and environmental objectives of the Bioeconomy Strategy.

Tuesday 01 April 2014:Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Mxolisi Xayiya launched the Memeza Women Empowerment Initiative at The Innovation Hub in the City of Tshwane.

The Memeza Women Empowerment Project developed a small key ring that is a loud personal safety alarm and a household community safety alarm. These safety alarms are unique, low cost and community driven, working in conjunction with Police Sector.

The personal alarm as one of the simplest and most effective alarm systems which is operated by simply pulling on a lanyard. The alarm emits an oscillating sound at 140 decibels.

The household community alarm has a number of features that make it unique. It is the first pay-as-you go alarm system with airtime pooling to reduce monthly airtime costs for the alarm owner. It has a long battery life, which means that it is suitable for use in rural areas. It can be charged using solar energy at local community centres. The alarm system is cell-phone enabled.

The Memeza household community alarm emits a unique three-phased siren to alert the community of intrusions. The house is easily identified by a flashing red light and alert SMS messages are sent to the cell phones of the local sector police, community crime initiatives and patrollers as well as pre-selected family, neighbours and friends.

Importantly, the household community alarm will log crime statistics to a SAPS database and will ensure real-time access to information. This is useful for sector commanders and station managers who will be able to gather information per sector, town and province.

Memeza’s director, Thuli Mthethwa, developed the device after her family was violently attacked in their home in Tembisa. She gave up her secure job as a software developer to design devices that would benefit the community at large. She is committed to finding ways to make such devices cost effective enough to be accessible to low-income communities.
Memeza is one of the 54 entrepreneurs in the Maxum Programme at The Innovation Hub. Thuli has been part of the programme for two years with her concept to develop both the personal alarm system and a community alarm system.

“This project is a true representation of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. What excites me is that this initiative is based on active and involved communities. When you look at the Memeza personal alarm system, what you see is a colourful key ring or an innovative safety system, but what I see is a tool for empowerment; a way for potential victims of crime to alert the community around them should they be in trouble,” said Xayiya.

The Innovation Hub is Africa’s first accredited science and technology park and an entrepreneurship intervention designed to accelerate the growth of innovative knowledge and technology-based enterprises in Gauteng. It is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development Department.

CEO of The Innovation Hub, McLean Sibanda spoke proudly on the The Innovation Hub’s role in developing the alarms since 2012. “It pleases me to see a smart approach to complex socio- economic challenges. Memeza and The Innovation Hub are working closely together to produce a system that can make a huge difference to the communities where it used,” he said.

The household alarm and its back end system are being finalised and testing has been underway since January 2014. “We have engaged with various community policing forums and the SAPS and there are discussions underway to roll out the Memeza system in communities across each of the Gauteng metropolitan municipalities. Tooling development is now at an advanced stage and we hope to reach commercialisation later this year,” explained Thuli.
The Memeza Women Empowerment Project distributed 10 000 personal alarm devices to disadvantaged learners and community members during March. The alarms were distributed to women and children in the townships of Diepsloot, Tembisa, Soshanguve, Eldorado Park, Ivory Park, and Ebony Park. This donation was made possible by funding from the National Lottery Board.

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Issued by the Department of Economic Development. For media releases and speeches visit our website www.ecodev.gpg.gov.za

Tshwane, Wednesday 26 March 2014 - A leading South African financial service provider has partnered with The Innovation Hub to launch a new challenge on OpenIX. Previously known as theOpen Innovation Solution Exchange, OpenIX is a web-based platform hosted by The Innovation Hub that aims to connect leading African researchers, and technology entrepreneurs with near-term commercial opportunities in industry and government.

The Innovation Hub is Africa's first internationally accredited science and technology park, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), established by the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED).

 The new challenge owner plans to bundle its risk mitigation service with a product or service from a different industry or sector for the mid to low living standards measure (LSM) market segment. Proposals are invited from prospective channel partners and technology providers with an existing presence in lower-income markets, or the potential to scale rapidly through a partnership with an established and reputable service provider. The latest challenge is posted anonymously due to the competitive nature of the industry and the disruptive opportunities a solution can offer. Interested parties are encouraged to register and submit their responses online at www.openix.theinnovationhub.com by 01 May 2014.


"Gauteng is home to a competitive financial service sector with globally recognized leaders in innovation. For example, in 2012 FNB was recognized at the BAI-Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards as the world’s Most Innovative Bank of the Year. At the same time new players such as Capitec have introduced a number of innovative products for the mid- to low-LSM segment. There is still however a great demand to increase access and reduce costs for clients, across a broader mix of financial services products including risk mitigation. By sourcing solutions for this challenge owner, we aim to grow their business but also impact people’s lives in a positive way" - McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub

Since December 2012, OpenIX has successfully run nine challenges on behalf of private and public sector clients. From the challenges posted, more than 80 high quality proposals were sourced and over 30 solutions were shortlisted for further engagement. Ten of these are currently either in negotiations, pilot contracts or at advanced stages of testing with challenge owners across all sectors. Participants include Transnet, Sappi, the City of Tshwane and other prominent South African companies.

Through OpenIX, South Africa is joining other leading regions that are deriving benefits from open collaboration between researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, industry and government. Our unique context and significant social challenges means that this platform has to serve socio-economic needs in a novel way. The Innovation Hub has a number of established programmes and mechanisms to support early-stage solutions through incubation and to enable partnerships and the competitiveness of local firms. Potential solution seekers interested in posting a Challenge on the platform should contact the OpenIX team at The Innovation Hub by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   or Tel: 012 844 0671.

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The Innovation Hub is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency , an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development Department.

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