Maties’ training buggy will give athletes training edge
The Training Buggy, an automated training buddy*, was selected as this year’s winning entry in the Stellenbosch University (SU) leg of the Innovation Fund’s Student Business Plan Competition (also known as the National Innovation Competition). The winning team, consisting of four engineering students, won R50 000 for their entry.
The winners of the competition were announced at a function of InnovUS, Stellenbosch University’s technology transfer company, recently. InnovUS facilitates the Stellenbosch leg of the competition.
Edward Ehlers, Pieter Greeff, Frank Janse van Vuuren and Ruan van der Merwe, all studying towards a Masters’ Degree in Engineering, developed the business plan for the training buggy that will give athletes a technological and competitive edge.
According to Mr Frank Janse van Vuuren, team leader, he was tired of always coming second and sought a way to improve his training. “I wanted a training buddy that would always be ready to train. So I came up with the idea of a Training Buggy.”
The team hopes to have a prototype ready by the end of 2010.
The purpose of the competition is to promote entrepreneurship through the commercialisation of the innovative ideas of young entrepreneurs. During the institutional phase of the competition, students compete at university level, and the top three student business plans are then entered into the national phase of the competition (where the prize money is a whopping R300 000), where all the top three student business plans, generated during the institutional phase, compete against each other for the grand national prize, which includes a funded trip abroad to participate in an international innovation competition.
Speaking at the event, Mr JP Klopper of the Innovation Fund and Manager of the competition said that government is committed to supporting the National Innovation Fund Competition and is investing a large amount of money in its drive to to transform South Africa from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy. He also congratulated InnovUS, Stellenbosch University’s technology transfer company, on hosting the event and facilitating the competition at SU. He said that InnovUS is providing “amazing resources” at the University.
In welcoming guests, Ms Anita Nel, Director of InnovUS, said that the function is in a sense a celebration of the art of technology. InnovUS, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, started out as the Office for Intellectual Property in 1999. Now a private company wholly owned by Stellenbosch University, it is responsible for technology transfer of the university’s research output.
“It is refreshing to be involved in an initiative that allows both post- and undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in a national event that boast a significant award. At Stellenbosch University, the students not only receive training to enable them to write business plans, but have have access to excellent mentors too. We enjoy the process as much as they do and hope that they will be inspired to pursue their ideas. Irrespective of the outcome of the competition, InnovUS will still support those students who wish to take their ideas to the next level,” she said.
Second prize (R30 000) went to PowerMon, an innovative device that is plugged into the electricity socket displaying the power consumption of that particular socket in a reader friendly manner. According to Ms Tshegofatso Oshupeng, a final year student in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and team leader of the project, similar devices are either very expensive instruments or complicated wireless devices which cost a lot of money compared to PowerMon. “These devices require technical skills to operate without taking into consideration the level of technical understanding of the general population. PowerMon will enable everybody to save electricity in a very intuitive manner by making consumers aware of how much power they use.”
Third place (R20 000) went to a business plan on patient-specific knee replacements. Most conventional knee joint prostheses are only available in standard shapes and sizes, pre-determined by the manufacturer. Using a self training neural network with a database containing healthy knee geometries, the affected knee’s original articulating knee geometry can be predicted. Prostheses can be designed and fabricated with “Rapid Manufacturing” techniques within days. The team leader is Mr Dawie van den Heever, currently working towards his PhD in mechatronic engineering.
* Due to certain requirements with regard to intellectual property, a restriction was placed on the information on the Training Buggy that can be made available.
More information on the Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, and was launched in 1999. Managed by the National Research Foundation and a dedicated team of industry experts, the Innovation Fund is mandated to promote technological innovation and business entrepreneurial ventures through investing in late-stage research and development, intellectual property protection and commercialisation of novel and inventive South African technologies. See www.innovationfund.ac.za for more information.
More information on the winners:
Contact details: Mr Frank Janse van Vuuren , tel. 021 808 4242, cell 076 576 3308. E-mail email@example.com
Contact details: Ms Tshegofatso Oshupeng, cell. 074 450 6363, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Patient-specific knee replacement
Contact details: Mr Dawie van den Heever, tel. 021 808 3613, cell 083 556 8311, email email@example.com