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The IDC is the primary driving force of commercially sustainable industrial development and innovation in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

The primary objective of the IDC’s New Industries Strategic Business Unit (SBU) is to support and nurture emerging industry value chains and enabling technologies that have the potential to make a significant impact on South Africa.

We have identified and prioritized six industry value chains (energy storage, fuel cells, gas beneficiation, renewal energy inputs, medical devices and natural products) and two enabling technologies (additive manufacturing & nano-technology) based on their financial and developmental return attractiveness and potential competitive advantage.

Energy storage
Our plan is to make South Africa a global leader in energy storage – at utility scale, energy storage facilities can be used to provide power to the grid to ensure energy supply security. There is potential to provide energy solutions (in combination with renewable energy generation) in rural areas with no grid connection.

SA has mineral resources which can be beneficiated for use in energy storage solutions, providing a sustainable global competitive advantage.

Fuel cells
Fuel cells chemically convert energy in fuels (hydrogen or methanol)) to electricity. SA has more than 80% of the world’s Platinum Group Metal reserves. Platinum is used as a catalyst in certain types of Fuel Cells. This natural endowment, therefore, provides the SA Fuel Cell industry with a strong global competitive advantage.

Fuel Cells are highly efficient and eco-friendly with no to very little harmful emissions compared to a diesel generator and are ideally-suited to distributed power generation.

Fuel cells have the potential to play a critical role to ensure the security of energy supply in SA.

Gas beneficiation
The SBU focusses on the development and commercialization of a globally unique technology that cleans raw natural gas and the building of the industry value chain around this technology.  We have invested in a demo plant in partnership with Klydon Gas, which has developed gas purification systems that prove the viability of the technology.

Potential clients include:

  • Landfill site operators,
  • Any industrial operation which produces harmful CO2 emissions (e.g. Sasol)
  • International oil & gas companies

Medical Devices
The IDC has a good track record of investing in various medical device innovations with global dominance. A pioneering device is the Lodox machine that is recognized as the first and only full body, high speed, digital x-ray scanner which can take a full-body X-ray image in just 13 seconds. The machine emits very low levels of harmful radiation, and plays a critical role in the initial management of trauma patients.

Natural products
We are taking advantage of the unique and rich biodiversity that exist in SA’s many plant species. We’ll be looking at the ingredients in all those plants and finding applications to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food additives, nutraceuticals and other related uses.

Renewable energy inputs
The SBU intends to stimulate the local manufacturing of components and systems for application in renewable energy projects as well as for the export markets. Presently, most components and the underlying technologies are imported and localization is mainly limited to assembly operations. We intend to turn the tide by localising the manufacturing of most of the valuable components and by adopting locally-developed technologies.

3D printing and nanotechnology
3D printing and nanotechnology are seen as enabling technologies that can be adopted across various sectors and value chains. They both present opportunities for small businesses to disrupt industries where scale and investment requirements are barriers to entry. These technologies are still at the infancy stage, thus the Unit has adopted a long-term view, collaborating with research institutions and universities to explore the possibilities of new applications/uses.


Source: The IDC



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