If you mention ‘South Africa’ and ‘innovation’ in a sentence together, people will nod their heads wisely and say, ‘Ah yes. Pratley Putty. Do you know that it is the only South African product to have travelled to the moon?’ While Pratley Putty has pride of place alongside duct tape as one of the world’s more useful adhesives, it was developed in the 1960s. Or the Kreepy Krauly, an automatic pool-cleaning device that is now sold all over the world … which was first sold in the 1970s. ‘Of course South Africans are innovative – Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant,’ people say. But that was in 1967.
What are we doing in 2015? Innovation is a celebration of the science and innovation happening in South Africa right now, addressing real problems on the ground and helping people in South Africa to live healthier, happier lives. It looks at inventions – developed locally by South Africans – to address issues in the areas of environment, energy, health, industry and education. Some of these inventions, such as genetic research for personalised medicine, can save lives; others, such as a unique way to beneficiate titanium, could spell a new era of industry in the country. All of these innovations illustrate our current scientific advances and developments and showcase South Africa’s potential for excellence.