SteadiDrone wins 2013 STEP-UP Technology Innovation Awards


Congratulations to the team at SteadiDrone from everybody at sUAS News. A well deserved win for South Africa’s most successful unmanned aircraft manufacturer. In airframes sold SteadiDrone has eclipsed military vendor Denel. They have distributors in ten countries around the world and a considerable online following on Facebook and elsewhere.

I have seen their 2014 platforms and am in no doubt they will be a great hit. In particular a large nameless quadrocopter capable of lifting several kilos for an hour. This platform is currently in trials for conservation tasks in Africa.

Once again well done!

SteadiDrone H6X from SteadiDrone on Vimeo.

More about the competition.

Individuals or small and medium sized businesses who have developed or are pioneering some form of technology innovation that requires local and international networks, mentorship and funding to get to the next level, have until 30 September 2013 to pitch their ideas in a new innovation competition.

A robust new commercialisation support programme announced on 22 May 2013 in Johannesburg, The Step-Up Technology Innovation Competition will fast-track the commercialization and business development of technology innovations.

Sponsored by government’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Sasol’s enterprise development vehicle, Sasol ChemCity, Step-Up seeks innovations in the health and biotechnology, chemicals, mining and manufacturing, information and communication technologies, food and agriculture, energy and green environment sectors.

This multi-faceted collaborative programme aims to address the most relevant networking, business, financing and knowledge requirements of each participant who reaches the finalist stage. Entry is open to any South African over the age of 16, who can enter online on

“Step-Up has pulled together the collective energy and resources of government, venture capitalists and incubators to steer early-stage initiatives up the value chain into sustainable production,” says Martin Feinstein, former CEO of Proudly South African and Enablis, who will be running the initiative, alongside the TIA and Sasol ChemCity.

The TIA and Sasol ChemCity will evaluate entries for inclusion in their extensive range of financial and non-financial support programmes, whether it is an initial idea or an existing innovation business. This is additional to the prizes and other benefits associated with winning the competition.

“Sasol ChemCity focuses its business development and support activities on SMEs, entrepreneurs and businesses that operate within the chemical, energy and related industries,” says Herman Berry, Technology Development and Innovation manager at Sasol ChemCity. “We believe that improving South Africa’s innovation capabilities, coupled with the ability to commercialise technology-based businesses, is critical to our social and economic success as a country in the long term.”

Finalists and winners stand to benefit from global introductions to business leaders through the international partnership group, The SABLE Accelerator (South African Business Link to Experts), dedicated to helping South African entrepreneurs, new venture start-ups, academic institutions, and companies commercialise technology innovations, promote and protect intellectual property, fund new business concepts, finance growth, and expand into global markets.

“The TIA deals with innovations that are early and unproven and, as such, face significant market, technical, regulatory and sometimes political hurdles to successful commercialisation,” says Mkhululi Mazibuko, TIA COO. “Industry, which recognizes these risks and challenges, is generally averse to licensing technologies without proven commercial capability and market demand. The Agency, through its mandate, has a higher risk appetite and it is this unique support that we bring to the Step-Up Technology Innovation Competition.”

Top achievers in the competition will be assessed for possible funding by venture capital and growth funding vehicles with a focus on alleviating the country’s socio-economic and environmental challenges. These include global and local heavyweights Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa, Impact Amplifier, Crowdinvest and Horizen Ventures.

With access to knowledge and networks also critical to grow innovation-based businesses, Step-Up finalists and winners will share in the vibrant regional network-building and mentorship capacity of enterprise development bodies such as Enablis and SAINe, while those whose innovations require software development can enter into Microsoft’s Bizspark developer programme.

The competition is open to early-stage innovators working on projects or ideas with commercial potential, or more established innovation-based SMMEs in need of financial or non-financial support in scaling up. It has the potential to accelerate rapid progress by linking entrepreneurs to the right people, sources of funding and business development resources.

All entrants will receive up to 4 hours of high-value consulting time with selected SABLE advisers, as well as a 3-month engagement with experienced and reputable industry mentors. In addition, in partnership with the SA Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA), entrants who would benefit from incubation will be referred to appropriate incubators.