The Baobab Ideas Lab is a practical embodiment of the concept of social innovation.

“Social Innovation” integrates various innovative solutions to address the most pressing problems that society faces, issues such as poverty, unemployment or the environment. Social innovation is not the prerogative or privilege of any organizational form or legal structure. Solutions often require the active collaboration of constituents across government, business, and the nonprofit world.

The Baobab Ideas Lab aims to drive collaboration and collective problem-solving, by creating an open innovation ecosystem rooted in practical projects aimed at solving the problems experienced by our society. The lab is a business incubator focused on developing, demonstrating, deploying, and commercialising innovations that address the most pressing problems facing our society. Services we provide include:

  • Business development services
  • Mentorship
  • Access to physical space
    • Hot desks
    • Meeting room
  • Events – launches, product demos, workshops, pop up events, etc. Both online and virtual meetings, as well as a combination is supported
  • Internet Services – printing, faxing, scanning
  • Access to equipment, skills and support
  • Access to deal finance
  • Skills development
    • Electronics/ Robotics
    • CCTV
    • Home Automation
  • Helping businesses go online
    • Web sites
    • Email
    • Online stores
    • Brochure/ pamphlet design
  • Physical store and distribution point
    • Our partner products
      • Electronics
      • Security – CCTV
      • Smart lighting
      • Smart Home
    • Other people’s products
    • PARGO distribution point (integrated logistics)
  • Onsite coffee shop

Success stories over the last 18 months include:

  • Launch of the African Way Coffee Shop by UCT students in a novel cooperative ownership model, exploring new, more equitable income distribution models. In addition to the 5 co-op members, they have also trained and employed a fulltime barista.
  • Incubation of Aizatron as a startup, their growth and their graduation from the Lab to their own premises in Mowbray.
  • Development of ROK-E, a robotic kit which is geared towards high school, university students and even adults wanting to make a career change to begin to understand how to build smart electronics. This interactive robot is one of our devices aimed to help prepare South Africans for the future jobs of the digital economy. ROK-E is crucial to learning technology driven skills needed for the fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Development of a grow controller in conjunction with SLE Farming. Instrumental to know that we have 3 UCT IS Honours students working on this as their project
  • Development of various smart building and safety solutions for the Baobab Student accommodation