BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

Welcome to the 2021 Most Innovative Companies Awards, South Africa’s most prestigious competition honouring innovation in business. We’ve engaged respected South African innovation thinkers and thought leaders to judge the awards. Meet them below.

Dr Audrey Verhaeghe

Dr Verhaeghe is Chairperson of Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), Chairman of The SA Innovation Summit (SAIS), and championed the SA Innovation Network (Saine). She spearheaded transforming the SA Innovation Summit into becoming a local institution and turned it into the major event it is today. She has been an adjudicator at various innovation competitions, published a number of articles on innovation as a business process, and mentored numerous student research studies in the same area. Dr Verhaeghe completed an MBA titled Appraising Innovation in Technology-based Research Organisations at the University of Pretoria and a PhD entitled “A sustainability index for Technology-driven organisations in South Africa” at the Da Vinci Institute.

Saberi Marais

As the technology commercialisation manager, Saberi’s has been at the forefront of assisting researchers and innovators to commercialise their outputs. He works towards the valorisation of UCT’s intellectual property, and securing funding for technology development, commercialisation and start-ups. He has collaborated with tech and non-tech business incubators, government agencies, and an array of local businesses to help them realise their goals.

Saberi was the Head of the Seed Fund Programme (where he oversaw the implementation, management and pipeline growth of the early stage technology-enabling Fund), Acting Executive for the Agency’s Innovation-Enabling Division, and a Regional Business Development Manager at the Technology Innovation Agency. He completed his MBA at Stellenbosch University; and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Molecular and Cell Biology at UCT.

Wesley Diphoko

Wesley Diphoko has been working at the intersection of technology, media, and communications across organisations. Wesley worked for the University of the Western Cape as its head of online communications where he led its initial Web 2.0 initiatives. He later joined South Africa’s leading media company to develop its innovation lab that formed part of the transition from print to digital. He also worked within the South African technology startups ecosystem serving as the Director of Africa’s first technology incubator, the Bandwidth Barn. In early 2020, Wesley was named Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company South Africa. He also serves as the chairman of the IEEE Open Data Initiative.