Brucol Global Development (Pty) Ltd
Winner of the Management of Innovation award for 2017, category for emerging enterprises
Why this proudly South African tower garden is so unique
Tower gardens for herbs and vegetables are growing in popularity among residents of high-rise buildings in the capital cities of the world, but they can be just as useful in rural South Africa with its wide-open spaces.
“Most tower gardens are for urban farming. Ours was designed for rural areas where people do not readily have access to water; it uses a minimal amount of water,” says Bruce Diale, chief executive of Brucol and co-brainchild of GardenIzly, a uniquely South African tower for growing vegetables.
The fact that GardenIzly was initially developed for dry, rural conditions doesn’t mean it isn’t just as effective in cities and towns. Bearing in mind the water crisis in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and elsewhere, this water-efficient innovation could be just up the street of urban dwellers too, and Brucol is already planning to branch out from rural to urban areas.
The company’s cone-shaped garden tower, which has been fully patented, was the brainchild of father-and-son team Dr Nkgodi Diale and Bruce.
“The concept started when I was still at school,” says Bruce, himself a qualified soil scientist. “My dad, who has a PhD in development studies focusing on agriculture, came home one day and said he wanted to build something that people can plant in. He started with a tyre.”
After much experimentation, trial and error, GardenIzly started to take shape. “Product development in an emerging enterprise is based on errors and complaints. We use feedback to improve the product,” Bruce says.
His own contribution has included advising on and sourcing specialised potting soil for use with GardenIzly, and putting in place the business, sales and marketing systems that this water-friendly product needs to make a splash.
“I set up the systems to see what the market needs,” Bruce says, adding that the value of efficient, effective systems cannot be overemphasised – especially in an emerging innovation company.
“When you are an emerging innovator, it is very important to have capabilities in terms of the business aspects. You need the business skills to determine who you are going to sell to and how, otherwise your innovation will become a white elephant.”
It seems unlikely this will be the fate of GardenIzly, which is already in demand among provincial agricultural departments and corporates with corporate social responsibility programmes. The product is also standing out by winning prizes in business innovation competitions such as the Engen Pitch & Polish and, of course, tt100.
The only way to go is up.
Speakers at the TIPS Conference 2018 (#TIPS2018) which took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton on Wednesday, 28 February 2018, explored the benefits and challenges of effectively managing Technology, Innovation and People within a systemic context. The event involved executives from both the public and private sectors as well as speakers from organisations who previously won the tt100 awards.
During his keynote address, Dr Phil Mjwara, Director General at the Department of Science and Technology, provided insights into some of the initiatives that the department is undertaking in South Africa. According to Dr Mjwara, the department is providing funding for the development of new sensors, including satellite sensors that measure atomic oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere to micro-seismic sensors in mining to give an early warning of potential rock falls. “This multitude of sensed data streams, combined in ways not possible before, allows us to discover new insights from the data and apply these insights through Technology, Innovation, with People and in Systems (“TIPS”)”, said Dr Mjwara.
“While it is important to digitise to remain competitive, increased digitalisation itself brings the potential for industries and companies to be disrupted through business model innovation”, said Dr Mjwara.
Dr Mjwara highlighted the department’s support for the Da Vinci tt100 Business Innovation Awards programme.
Attendees at the conference were given the opportunity to explore ideas related to TIPS with industry peers and thought leaders, with a view to become more agile in the workplace.
Eileen Wilton, a technology thought leader and former CEO of Gijima, unpacked technology readiness and risk management. Wilton discussed the importance of digitalisation and the need for digital transformation within organisations. She said that the most successful companies today are run on technology platforms.
“One needs to think, consider and be ready for digital transformation and the key challenge is ICT leadership,” said Wilton.
Eric Stokes, Chief Information Officer at Pfortner spoke about how the effective management of technology could contribute to organisational success. Stokes looked into some of the factors necessary to enhance the effective management of technology.
He stressed that businesses need to develop a technology strategy in order to become more disruptive.
The TIPS Conference 2018 was organised by IT News Africa in partnership with tt100 and supported by The Da Vinci Institute and the Department of Science and Technology.
By Fundisiwe Maseko
Key Topics included:
- Technology Readiness and Risk Management
- A Leadership Perspective on Enabling Creativity and Innovation
- Innovation as a Management Process
- How leadership can successfully drive Innovation
- Identifying and developing the next generation of leadership within the organisation
- Navigating the roadblocks to Innovation
- Systems thinking for contemporary challenges
- Leading an organisation using a systemic thinking approach
- Oliver Naidu, Managing Director at Refined Leadership Consulting
- Eileen Wilton, Technology Leader and Former CEO of Gijima
- Themba Dlamini, Head of Auditing and Accounting at Dunamis Mangement services
- Bruce Diale, CEO at Brucol Global Development
- Darryl Pillay, Managing Director at Jungle Book Room, Wild Innovation
- Edward Kieswetter, President at The Da Vinci Institute
- Elan Sullivan, CTO at PFK Electronics
- Shamila Singh, Head of HR Standards at SA Board For People Practices
There are deep reservoirs of innovation in South Africa and this talent must not go untapped. For 26 years, the tt100 Business Innovation Awards Programme has been bringing to light and celebrating organisations whose innovative spirit stands out – not just for the extraordinary quality of their ideas but the proven ability to turn these into commercially sustainable products or services with real socio-economic impact.
All of us can learn from these winning organisations, who will be sharing the secrets of their success at a series of special events and projects planned for the 2018 tt100 Awards.
The sharing starts on 28 February 2018 with the first-ever TIPS tt100 Conference. Here, winners of the 2017 tt100 awards will take centre stage to reveal how they manage their technology, innovation, people and systems (TIPS) to build excellent, sustainable, prosperous enterprises.
In March, in another new and exciting first, we will be telling the tt100 story in Zimbabwe through an awareness programme sure to catch the attention of that resilient and entrepreneurial nation.
More tt100 milestones are set to follow in preparation for the opening of the 2018 competition in May, close of registration in August, adjudication in September and the awards evening in November.
The tt100 Business Innovation Awards Programme has a bold, inspiring vision for 2018. Join us on the journey.