What’s the South African innovation ecosystem like? Why does it appear to be one of the most promising tech geographies today? In what way are major trends such as population growth, social and economic progress, market consolidation, and technology assets playing a role in turning the African innovation ecosystem into the world’s next powerhouse?
I discuss these matters (and more!) with 2 prominent innovators based in South Africa :
- Audrey Verhaeghe, the Chairman of The SA Innovation Summit (SAIS) and,
- Gavin Reardon, the Founder and Managing Partner of Kingson Capital, a venture capital firm based in South Africa.
It’s all here !
Profile of Dr Audrey Verhaeghe: Chairperson of SA Innovation Summit
Dr Verhaeghe is Chairman of Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), and Chairman of The SA Innovation Summit (SAIS) and director at WineTech. She spearheaded the commercialisation of the SA Innovation Summit as a Southern African Institution and main innovation event for the country. The Summit grew over 11 years to represent the largest eco- system in innovation on the continent of Africa. SAIS runs Inventors Garage and Pitching Den Competitions, establish Tech Tribes through Hackathons, develop township tech entrepreneurs, and leads conversations about Angel Investing in South Africa. Over 3000 technology entrepreneurs have participated in prototype and start-up competitions run by the summit. The Summit hosts 32 countries and is working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop trade agreements for the start-up community across borders. The economic contribution of the summit is estimated to be 1.15 billion rand to the economy of SADC in 2019. The summit partnered with Activate to increase Social innovation impact in Townships and rural areas through the use of technology.
RIIS was born out of a passion for the successful implementation of innovation. Audrey championed Open innovation and established three open innovation platforms on the continent as Great minds think outside.
Innovation, Tech Entrepreneurship and Business Sustainability are Audrey’s primary focus areas in business. She has been an adjudicator at various innovation competitions. Innovation projects include Strategy, audits, surveys, consulting, implementations, research and training. She has published a number of articles and conference papers on innovation as a business process and mentored numerous student research studies in the same area.
Websites: https://riis.co.za/ and www.innovationsummit.co.za She conceptualised and ran https://www.openix.theinnovationhub.com/ for which the Innovation Hub won international awards. She has been recognised with the Co-Create Dutch award as one of the 50 top women in Technology in SA in 2017 as well as the Gauteng Business Women leadership Award for a significant contribution to the economy post-apartheid.
Gavin Reardon is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of Kingson Capital, a venture capital firm based in South Africa. Gavin works closely with the South African Government, industry associations and other investors in creating an enabling environment for tech businesses in the digital economy. In 2019 Kingson was acknowledged by the United States Government for its role in unlocking private sector capital and awarded with a guarantee facility to continue its work in catalysing the VC industry in South Africa. Gavin is a qualified Chartered Accountant. Prior to Kingson, Gavin was CFO at Praxis Financial Services. Immediately after qualifying as a chartered accountant, Gavin stepped into various corporate roles before moving into strategy and organisational design.