Boitumelo Makgabutlane from SabiNano was selected to be part of the 7th Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (2021) for her carbon nanomaterial-enhanced innovation for building and construction applications. The Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) is a program delivered by the Royal Engineering Academy as part of the UK Newton Fund which, through a variety of science and innovation activities, supports the economic development and social welfare of developing countries. This year’s program involves 14 Newton Fund countries: South Africa, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Jordan, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam with a total of 136 participants. In South Africa, the program is facilitated by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

The LIF brings together the emerging leaders in the global innovation community. It acts as a catalyst for individuals to commercialize engineering-based innovations that has the potential to contribute to the socio-economic development of their country. The main objectives of the program are to increase business start-ups, survival and performance; creation of new and decent jobs; greater adoption of engineering innovation; improved ecosystems to support entrepreneurial innovation and increased local and international collaborations between business and research institutes. The program is going to run from February – October 2021, with intensive training in topics such as value proposition, finance, business modelling and intellectual property to mention a few. Tailored mentorship from industrial experts will be provided to assist the entrepreneur commercialize their innovation.

Boitumelo’s selection will be beneficial to SabiNano’s project to commercialize their ultra-strong low-cost waste-derived nanotech products for the building and construction products. The nanotech product offers high strength and durability comparable even superseding the conventional bricks. The innovation will remedy environmental pollution and open new avenues of employment, thus ensuring a more circular economy.  The LIF will also provide SabiNano with international networks and collaborations with entrepreneurs, industry players and key stakeholders for capital investment and funding to ensure the sustainability and success of the business.

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