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SharkSafe recognised as a top ocean innovator

SharkSafe Barrier™, an Innovus spinout company from Stellenbosch University, was recognised by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF)​ digital platform UpLink as one of its top ocean innovators.

UpLink, the WEF’s digital platform for scaling innovation and driving progress toward sustainable development goals, unveiled its second cohort of ocean innovators on 22 January 2021. The platform aims to identify and highlight businesses such as SharkSafe PTY as a company with great potential to accelerate the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development. This recognition was bestowed during the second Ocean Solutions Sprint supported by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI); and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

Stellenbosch University’s Prof Conrad Matthee, one of the inventors of SharkSafe Barriers™, said UpLink enables next-generation mission-driven entrepreneurs and young innovators to join forces with a trusted community of leading organisations, experts, investors and changers to make a significant impact. “We are immensely proud that Sharksafe was chosen as one of eleven innovations that have the potential to address some of the most important current challenges in the marine environment.”

SharkSafe Barrier™, the first eco-friendly technology that combines magnetic and visual stimuli to deter Shark species considered dangerous to humans, last year also won the prestigious NSTF South32’s Lewis Foundation Green Economy award for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation in South Africa. The inventors of SharkSafe Barrier™, are Michael Rutzen, Dr Sara Andreotti, Dr Craig O’Connell and Prof Matthee. Dr Andreotti and Prof Matthee are from SU’s Department of Botany and Zoology.

“Over the next few months, Sharksafe PTY will be further assisted by UpLink to increase the impact of the technology through mentorship, capacity building workshops, exposure and visibility, as well as introductions to potential investors, where applicable,” said Prof Matthee. “Sharksafe has now formally joined a growing community of UpLink innovators benefiting from the platform.”

Introducing the top innovators, the WEF said: “The ocean is our lifeline – its health is essential to our health. Finding and elevating promising ocean innovations wherever they may be, connecting them and helping them scale is crucial to ensure we protect one of our planet’s most valuable assets. The WEF believes that these innovations have the potential to address some of the key opportunities in the ocean space today.”

Anita Nel, Chief Director for Innovus, Stellenbosch University’s commercialisation division that houses the university’s technology transfer office, says since they have become involved in the commercialisation of SharkSafe, the project was spin out as a startup company and has grown tremendously. “The fact that the Technology Innovation Agency also invested in them in the past is a huge feather in their cap and evidence that SharkSafe is a well-run and innovative company that is attracting the attention of the world.”​

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