• Elevator Pitch Excitement at Student Entrepreneurship Week

    by Corrette De Jager | Aug 14, 2017


     (From left) Deven Reddy (Director, Suryan Leadership), Zandile Ntshangase (CATHSSETA), Suvina Singh (Director, UKZN InQubate), Sandile Manyoni (3rd place), Nandisa Ngubelanga (winner), Anele Mkuzo (Director, African Entrepreneurship Initiative) Ndiphiwe Nondabu (2nd place), Mbali Bhengu (Director, Mindswitch), Vishen Pillay (Partner, Adams & Adams)

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    As part of Student Entrepreneurship Week promoted by UKZN and the Department of Higher Education and Training, UKZN InQubate gave students some tips on how to tackle the ‘Elevator Pitch’ – that is, the hard, quick sell of their business idea to prospective investors. 

    The event was held on 2nd August at the Student Union Building, Howard College Campus amidst a crowd of 200 students eager to find out more about the business world. Exhibitors supporting youth entrepreneurship at the event included MTN, Adams & Adams, Ethekwini Business Support unit, SEDA, Money4Jam, SHAPE, Ithala Bank and UKZN InQubate’s STEP UP.

    Ms. Palesa Phili, the KZN Regional Manager for MTN was the key note speaker. Ms. Phili addressed students on the comparison of working in corporate and bountiful opportunities that are available to young entrepreneurs, providing a vibrant canvas of possibilities. Deven Reddy, then took students through the process of starting up as an entrepreneur and introduced the new shift in business in the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution. Anele Mkuzo, Managing Director at African Entrepreneurship Initiative, enthused students with the real-life experience of being an entrepreneur, sharing thrills, opportunity, adrenalin and rewards of being an entrepreneur and the opportunity that exist for young South Africans.

    Students were then given the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, who also provided advice to the young entrepreneurial hopefuls, sharing their own experiences as entrepreneurs and giving tips about the do’s and don’ts of business. The judging panel included  experts in their respective fields, including, Mr Vishen Pillay from Adams & Adams, Ms Kimera Moodley from TIA, Ms Thembalihle Ndlovu from EDTEA, Ms Anele Mkuzo from African Entrepreneurship Initiative and Ms Zandile Ntshangase from CATHSSETA.

    Ten students were selected and given three minutes to sell their ideas to the judges.  After much deliberation, the winners were announced:  Mr Sandile Manyoni at number three received a wireless speaker; second placed Mr Ndiphiwe Nondabu received a 1 TB hard drive and Ms Nandisa Ngubelanga walked away with the winner’s prize of a Samsung tablet, sponsored by Adams and Adams.

    Ngubelanga said she felt excited that her pitch, ‘Ekhaya for You: Student Accommodation’, was chosen as the winning concept.  Ngubelanga’s idea is for a website that would provide a search engine for fast, reliable and hassle-free accommodation for students.

    ‘Just a few days ago, I was that person who thought this was not a good idea, it’s been done before and there is nothing special about,’ she said.  ‘But when I actually started preparing for this competition I realised I needed to take myself seriously because this idea could really work!’


    Author and picture:  Manqoba Hadebe


  • Network Africa – Power Line Inspection Robot

    by Lindiwe Nhlapho | Oct 19, 2016


  • Inspection Robot Runner-up in Newton Fund Competition 14 September 2016

    by Lindiwe Nhlapho | Sep 21, 2016

    14 September 2016 Volume :4 Issue :43

    Power Line Inspection Robot Runner-up in Newton Fund Competition

    The Power Line Inspection robot developed by engineers in UKZN’s Discipline of Electrical Engineering is a runner-up in the Newton Fund Video Competition thanks in part to a video created by one of the developers of the robot, Mr Trevor Lorimer.

    Using footage gathered over four years, Lorimer created a video that showcases the robot’s development and design.

    As runner-up, Lorimer will attend the Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS) Engineering a Better World Conference in London to present the video.

    The prize also provides marketing funding to publicise this innovation so Lorimer will use the trip to meet industry leaders in the  United Kingdom who are interested in using the technology on their lines.

    The robot was developed by the University in collaboration with Eskom, with Lorimer and Mr Timothy Rowell completing masters research on the project. Lorimer is now spearheading the third prototype robot.

    Professor Ed Boje, now at the University of Cape Town, has managed the project since inception. Since Boje’s  departure from  UKZN, Dr Andrew Swanson has performed a direct role in managing the project, with Boje contributing expertise.

    The project received seed funding from the Technology Innovation Agency through UKZN InQubate, the University’s Technology Transfer  Office which manages the project’s  intellectual property (co-owned  by  the  University  and  Eskom). Inventors are entitled    to benefit-sharing from the profits of successful commercialisation of the technology.

    Power Line Inspection Robot

    The team hopes to begin the final phase of primary development by testing the third generation prototype, preceding the start of limited commercial inspections targeted at niche applications where other methods are too expensive or dangerous to be conducted regularly.

    ‘If you distil the problem of power line maintenance, the value here is in the inspection data itself, and the challenge is to deliver this data to the inspector efficiently,’ explained Lorimer. ‘Instead of transporting tons of equipment across thousands of kilometres, we’ll send out robotic vehicles to transport the cameras.’

    The robot performs detailed power line inspections at reduced costs to contribute to properly informed maintenance decisions, in order to ensure the quality of electrical supply. Inspections, important for statutory compliance and asset maintenance, are currently limited to foot and aerial patrols.

    The lightweight robot is a platform, controlled from a ground station, to transport inspection sensors, and will comprise instrumentation from a multi-spectral camera to acoustic sensors to resistance and temperature measures. The device uses smaller line crews and could be instrumental in inspecting lines in numerous countries.

    Lorimer hopes that the video will generate more publicity for innovations in Engineering at UKZN, and also gather more support for entrepreneurial activities, especially at the University.

    Lorimer envisions the development of technology allowing the device to be recharged by the power lines themselves, using machine vision to detect hardware so the robot can self-navigate, and connect to high-speed networks to allow inspectors to access inspection data from an office base.

    * Lorimer was recently a guest on Kaya FM Bizz, where he spoke to Thuli Magubane about the technology.

     author : Christine Cuénod

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