SANBio/BioFISA II funded SMA2RT Project receives Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) award

Head Judge Professor Sir Saeed Zahedi with South African winner of the Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership in Innovation Fellowship training programme business pitching competition, Ms Keneiloe Kganane Photo credit: Layton Thompson

Keneiloe Kganane, the young entrepreneur behind SO YHUM sorghum biscuits won 1st place for the cohort of South African entrepreneurs at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) business pitching competition in London.

Kganane is a Junior Sensory Research Assistant working on the strategic business development for Healthy SMA2RT snacks which is a SANBio/ BioFISA II funded project in collaboration with the  National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN).

SO YHUM biscuits is a new biscuit range made from Africa’s own climate-smart, ancient grain, sorghum, is based on commercialisation of research outputs from the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at the University of Pretoria.
Excited for the recognition, Kganane said receiving the award is a big honour and prestigious moment for her company.

“The recognition validated the collaborative efforts of our ecosystem. The wheels of change require collective participation between government, research institutions and business to propel us into the future,” said Kganane.

“In the South African context particularly co-operation will assist in the revival of the sorghum industry which is the motivation for the creation of sorghum based snack foods such as SO YHUM sorghum biscuits for economic impact while also highlighting the significance of agricultural development and food technology advancement in solving global challenges for food security, sustainability and climate change,” she added.

LIF works with engineers, academics and researchers from 16 countries across the globe whose innovation could have economic impact in their own countries or other developing nations. In 2019, participants were placed in an intensive two-week entrepreneurship-training course presented by Oxentia in London, United Kingdom.  At the end of session, a final pitch day allowed the participants to showcase their innovations and progress in front of a panel of external judges.

The LIF programme aims to build the entrepreneurial capacity and commercialisation skills of innovators from selected partner countries. The objective of the programme is to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global challenges by building better links between academia and industry to develop and commercialise solutions for real-world problems.  

Kganane was part of the 15 participants selected by the  Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) to represent South Africa and as part of her award, she will benefit from receiving ongoing support at her home institution, and have access to a curated international network of over seven hundred peer innovators and mentors, which can help her take the SO YHUM brand commercialisation plan forward.

Photo credit: Layton Thompson