Global network for SA innovators

13 August 2012

The SABLE Accelerator, a global network driven by South African expatriates, was launched in California’s Silicon Valley last week to help boost the country’s competitiveness and realise a better return on its innovation and entrepreneurship, in both the public and private sectors.

The SABLE (South African Business Link to Experts) Accelerator, launched in association with a number of prominent South African private and public sector partners, was formed by three South Africans living in Silicon Valley and London: Donovan Neale-May, Werner Mansfeld and Kurt Pakendorf.

It features a consulting team of South African expatriates holding senior positions at international technology, life science and agri-business companies; consulting and professional service firms; venture capital and private equity funds; as well as research and academic institutions, including the new venture spawning ground of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Assisting South African entrepreneurs

The international group is dedicated to helping South African entrepreneurs, new venture start-ups, academic institutions and companies commercialise technology innovations, promote and protect intellectual property, fund new business concepts, finance growth, as well as expand into global markets.

“We are building a trusted knowledge network of well-placed and highly connected global South Africans who can make a meaningful difference to the country’s brand image and competitive position in world markets,” one of the co-founders and managing partners, Donovan Neale-May, said in a statement.

Neale-May runs a global marketing consultancy and is executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer Council, a worldwide membership group of 6 000 corporate marketers controlling more than US$300-billion in annual marketing spend.

Elite online community of innovators

A big part of the SABLE value proposition is the formation of an elite online community of expert Global South Africans (GSA) who possess knowledge, expertise, influence and access abroad.

South African-based “innovators” will also be able to register and post information about their intellectual property or new business models on www.sablenetwork.com with the aim of furthering links to experts and sources of funding and business development support worldwide.

They will also be able to search for compatible and relevant global experts to help them take their IP or business models to market, as well as provide advice, coaching, mentoring and introductions.

The SABLE Accelerator aims to further South Africa’s economic interests through global knowledge transfer and the growth of a trusted expert network of expatriate South Africans willing to contribute back to their country of birth through coaching, mentoring, consulting, advising, teaching, training, funding or donating.

Helping South Africa’s socio-economic development

“There is an amazing South African talent pool offshore that is eager and motivated to give back and contribute to socio-economic development in their country of origin,” said chief executive officer of the Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (WESGRO), Nils Flaaten.

Flaaten joined the board of SABLE and will collaborate closely with its founding members and expert network worldwide.

He said that countries like India, Taiwan, Australia and Israel were highly advanced in forming expatriate support networks to fund and promote new venture start-ups and that South Africa needed to mobilise its resource base as well.

SABLE members have already referred potential investors to the Western Cape agency and many of its early meetings and consultations have been with technology ventures based in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

In addition, academics from the technology transfer and innovation offices of both University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch serve on the faculty of the SABLE Accelerator. Other South African universities represented include Rhodes University and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.

SAinfo reporter