Cape Town's Iziko Museum formed the backdrop for the 2018 DST Budget Vote exhibition showcasing the best of the Department's latest scientific innovations.

 

This year's Budget Vote was held under the theme, "Advancing the legacy of Mama Albertina Sisulu through people-centred science and technology". Government has declared this year the centenary of two struggle icons, former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, in celebration of their contributions to democracy, freedom and equality for all South Africans.

 

The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, delivered her first Budget Vote speech on Wednesday, tabling a R7,8 billion budget.

 

Several activities were held on the day to mark the occasion, including the eye-catching exhibition.

 

More than 12 exhibits were displayed in the Iziko Museum's Whale Well, which houses a unique collection of whale casts and skeletons, including a 20.5 metre blue whale skeleton. The setting was ideal for the DST's exhibition.

 

Exhibitors included DST entities such as the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Research Foundation, the South African Space Agency and the Human Sciences Research Council, as well as stakeholders and projects funded by the Department through these agencies.

 

Visitors were enlightened on the construction of the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the development of hydrogen as an alternative energy source, and an initiative to establish vaccine manufacturing capacity in the country, among others.

 

The exhibits demonstrated how science, technology and innovation are contributing to the country's development, and showcased the value of science in daily life.

 

An exciting DST-funded initiative which makes innovative use of recycled waste attracted huge attention. Start-up company AgriProtein showed how they are harnessing nutrient recycling technology to convert insect-based organic waste into protein for commercial use in the animal feed industry.

 

AgriProtein recycles more than 8 billion flies to produce 250 tonnes of waste a day, boosting larvae production to 50 tonnes a day. The commercial facility, funded by the Department through the TIA, is a first in the world.

 

Alongside AgriProtein was a display from Beedale, a company that has developed a new hive platform to meet the demands of the modern beekeeper. The smartHIVE incorporates a variety of functions that are integral to daily beekeeping operations, including a solar power supply input, battery condition monitoring, hive temperature monitoring and GSM-based backhaul communications.

 

According to Beedale Director Nicky Worthmann, "Beedale integrates with your environment to ensure optimum visibility regarding the health of your hives, as well as the yield". Ms Worthmann expressed excitement at the exposure the exhibition provided, and encouraged more people to visit the exhibition in future.

 

At another stand, a company working in a partnership to revive South Africa's mining industry demonstrated some of the pioneering technologies that are being deployed at the new Mandela Mining Precinct in Carlow Road, Johannesburg.

 

The Precinct functions on the "hub-and-spoke" model, with the Precinct serving as the "hub" and the mining companies and institutions that collaborate through it forming the "spokes". Partners involved in this initiative include the Chamber of Mines, the DST through the CSIR, the Departments of Mineral Resources and Trade and Industry, and the universities of Wits, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

 

One of the companies hosted at the Precinct is SiMINE, a start-up that specialises in physical mining simulation. SiMINE aims to pull together all the complex elements and interconnected activities of next-generation mining using technologies such as augmented reality, digital twinning and data dashboarding.

 

Antony Mello, a young scientist working as a consultant at SiMINE, was excited to be part of the DST Budget Vote. "For us as a company, we are trying to showcase to as many people as possible what we are about and the future of mining, which is what we are trying to sell."

 

Mello explained that they will also be using their expertise to expose young learners and university students to mining and to get them excited about the opportunities within the industry.

 

In her Budget Vote speech, Minister Kubayi-Ngubani said science, technology and innovation have the potential to make a far greater impact in our country than they currently do. 

"They should play an instrumental role in improving public service delivery, informing official decision-making, increasing the competitiveness of existing firms and supporting new technology-based firms, modernising existing industries such as agriculture and mining while developing emerging industries, and through all of this, improving the quality of life of our people," the Minister said.