A total of R2.8m was disbursed in Round 2 of the Design Innovation Seed Fund (2016-2018) which is reaching its conclusion with the businesses contracted, with final close out reports being completed for the funding round.

The Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) funds designers, inventors, entrepreneurs and product developers with pre-revenue innovative technologies and tech-enabled ideas and products. These businesses are not able to raise funds easily from traditional banks or funding agencies because of the risks involved. The seed funding assists recipients to understand their opportunities by designing and building prototypes; and validating their assumptions around the technical and market-related challenges.

The DISF is a project of the CDI with investment and management funds respectively provided by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The Fund is being managed by the CDI’s subsidiary CDI Capital, our entity catalysing funding for SMEs.

LIQID Medical

LIQID Medical is developing a highly innovative ocular implant which has the potential to prevent blindness in millions of patients suffering from glaucoma. They have raised an additional R3m equity investment, have been awarded two design patents and have filed two invention patents covering 80% of international markets. Biocompatibility has been established and the first human clinical trials are around the corner.

Signal BioScience

Signal Bioscience aims to revolutionise the consumer health industry by developing safe and effective evidence-based nutraceutical products (nutraceutical products provide medicinal or health benefits). Consumers are increasingly taking control of their health, and patients are researching alternative treatments and are taking steps to maintain optimal nutrition and take preventative care measures. Signal’s approach is aligned with emerging global trends towards more natural, less intrusive, outcome driven health products.


Medical diagnostics start-up Incitech uses cutting-edge technologies to improve rapid HIV testing.

Incitech has made significant strides towards achieving this vision in the past few years. The DISF helped translate their flagship concept, the MicroPatch, into a tangible and fully functional prototype. The Micropatch is a consumer-driven, easy-to-use, fully integrated, and virtually painless transdermal HIV self-testing device for home use. A patent application has been filed for this innovative invention. To date, the team has raised just under R1m of seed investment. In 2018, Incitech also secured a partnership with the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute.

Incitech has received several awards; these include the: 2015 E2/Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Startership Challenge, 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Challenge pitching competition and 2017 South African Breweries Foundation Seed Fund. Currently, Incitech has applied for the TIA Technology Development Fund. Under this fund, Incitech will develop and refine their technology, informed by innovative science and technology systems and consumer experiences. The commercialisation of this product will develop cutting-edge technologies, infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities within our borders, while contributing to job creation, the growth of our economy and provide a way for the layperson to access knowledge about their own health.


Oranet is developing a liquid wood extract that supplements and has the potential to replace the use of conventional maturation methods in the wine and beer industry. Final activities of their project will be to prove the efficacy of the product as a catalyst for sales specifically into the beer industry. Their liQuerc product provides the same mouth feel, structure, flavour enhancement, with increased stability and longevity. It also has significant production benefits because of its liquid form and thus rapid integration. Trials on both beer and wine are ongoing with lab testing in collaboration with Stellenbosch University.

Disa Vascular

Disa Vascular are developing new type of instrument for blunt dissection of soft tissues during surgical procedures. Disa Vascular has a commercially-ready device which passed verification and validation testing as well as biocompatibility testing. The equipment required to manufacture these devices have been completed and are production ready, have been moved into the cleanroom and production staff members have been trained on all processes. They expect to launch the product once their patents applications have been approved.


FlyH2 are developing fuel cell powered drones for the delivery of sterile insects into export citrus – it combats the False Codling Moth (FCM), a pest that spoils fruits and which is a serious threat to SA’s export citrus markets. FlyH2 has successfully developed an automated hopper (the part of an agricultural aircraft that stores the contents to be spread over a farm) and successfully released sterile moths from a petrol version of its Eagle Owl unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In addition, it has developed a fuel cell pod (which offers benefits over the petrol engine) and designed a suitable UAV for improved performance and efficiency.


SmartBlade (PTY) Ltd is a South African medical device development and manufacturing company. The founding team, in their line of work, was acutely aware that in low-to-middle-income settings, clinicians tend not to have access to certain life-saving devices due to the cost thereof. This critically affects both the standards of care of delivery to critically ill patients, as well as the opportunity to improve on existing clinician capabilities and industry education.

A lack of video laryngoscopes in their settings was the need they set out to fulfil. They have successfully developed a low-cost, unique and life-saving single-use (but recyclable) medical device called the SmartBlade. The patented SmartBlade is a fit-for-purpose channelled laryngoscope which is transformed into a Video Laryngoscope through the incorporation of a smartphone (with the SmartBlade app).

50 prototypes were made using a silicone mould and successfully tested by a South African airway expert. SmartBlade has now also been awarded a Tech Transfer Fund grant from Seda to manufacture its first commercial mould for high volume injection moulding, and the company is in the final stages of negotiating with funders for a Venture Capital investment. SmartBlades will be commercially manufactured by a Cape Town-based, suitably accredited medical device manufacturer, and will therefore contribute very positively to the Western Cape economy.