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Innovative projects take Joburg to new heights Print E-mail
06 March 2017

Winners of the Green City Start-Up Challenge as well as some of the finalists, and teams of experts from both the City of Johannesburg and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have launched at least 20 research projects to position the city as a leading technological innovative hub on the continent and spur economic growth.

“We have globally ground-breaking innovations and projects on our hands and, by underpinning them with deep and vigorous research, coupled with quality assurance, we are onto big things,” says Professor Pat Naidoo, the City’s Green Research and Innovation Chair and Research Professor at UJ.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development Cllr Sharon Peetz says the move will contribute to the achievement of one of the key objectives of the City’s new10-point plan – growing Johannesburg’s economy by at least 5% by 2021.

Prof Naidoo says through thorough research the innovative ideas will be taken from concept to market phase.

“Several of the ideas that we will be researching in laboratory conditions have the potential to define the landscape of Johannesburg but they are also possible job creators with high added economic value,” he says.

The winner of the 2015 challenge, Paseka Lesolang, says he has already begun working with UJ on one of the projects. He adds that tests conducted in laboratory conditions at the university have provided him with “valuable learning”.

Lesolang won R1-million in the inaugural challenge for his water-saving innovation, Water Hygiene Convenience (WHC), a leakless valve that prevents up to 70% water loss in the case of a leak.

“I was thrilled to work with UJ to ensure my product is economically viable. Working with UJ has influenced the design and the potential of my technology just keeps growing thanks to the City and UJ,” said Lesolang.

To date, more than 1 000 units of Lesolang’s leakless toilet solution have been installed. About 20 jobs have already created.

“This idea came from listening to the toilet hissing at my grandmother’s house. After looking at how best to fix it, I discovered the frighteningly high water losses incurred as a result of leaks,” says Lesolang, who adds that between 30 litres and 100 litres of water can be lost daily through leaking.

The City loses R7.2-billion annually as a result of unbilled water losses through leaks in the system.

“The potential savings are staggering if we as a collective commit ourselves to reducing the amount of water we lose in our homes,” says Lesolang.

Another idea being researched at UJ is the Farminabox concept, created by the 2016 second-runner up Rydawi Fish Farms. It’s a complete tilapia fish farming system for small-scale farmers. The system is energy- and water-efficient. Not only does it promote food security but it also contributes to economic development.

Rydawi Director David Fincham says he is looking forward to reviewing and researching Farminabox and various techniques, feeds and genetics with the support of academic staff.

“With just three fish farms in the Southern Hemisphere trying to feed billions, the economic opportunities of this idea are immense and can also help address urban and rural food security. I’m very keen to look at and link this idea with others to take it forward,” says Fincham.

Other projects being researched under the Green Research and Innovation Chair portfolio include:
• The 2016 Green City Start-Up winner Ducere Holdings’s Miser innovation;
• A hydraulic version of hybrid transmission for vehicles that boasts 70% savings and reduced emissions;
• A large-scale urban indoor piggery project;
• A beehive development and honey farming concept;
• Turning municipal waste to energy;
• Designing and developing industrial machinery to roll out sanitary towels and napkins; and
• The design and development of technology to transform thermal coal ash waste to brick and paving materials.

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Last Updated on 06 March 2017