The Design Institute changes gears

The new year saw the launch of the SABS Design Institute’s Design and Innovation Entrepreneurship 

Centre. The creation of the Centre is a result of a partnership forged between the Technology 

Innovation Agency (TIA) and the SABS where the Design Institute will work with participants in TIA’s 

Youth Technology Innovation Fund to give wings to their new product or service ideas. 

Design thinking was employed to arrive at the way in which the Centre will operate. Design thinking 

always has the end user (in this case the participants in the Centre) as the point of departure and the 

question “what if?” is asked over and over again. 

South Africans across the board will benefit from the Centre. Says Gavin Mageni, group manager of 

the Design Institute: “In South Africa there is confusion between enterprise development and SMME 

support. Through the Centre we will look at enterprise development; be it the enterprise of an 

entrepreneur, a SMME or any other entity that can benefit from a design-centred approach.” 

The Centre kicks off with 43 product or service ideas on the table that have been generated by 60 

individuals. Candidates come from all walks of life and bring to the Centre cell apps, household 

appliances and public services. Their level of education ranges from matric to PhD. 

The process takes a person or team from the first initial phase of R&D and then goes through reverse 

engineering. Questions asked are: Who is the end user? Is there a need in the market for this service 

or product? Does it conform to a form that the market needs? 

Tracking the entrepreneur’s success will be part of the process and it will be possible to re-enter the 

Centre if stumbling blocks are encountered. The Centre will be hands-on and will look at the person, 

the product and the business model. Watch this space to read more about the Design and Innovation Entrepreneurship Centre in the 

months to come.