South African hardware backer Savant has made five investments worth a total of ZAR18 million (US$1.22 million) over the last 12 months.
A hardware technology incubator, Savant was established by Nick Allen in 2005, and provides commercial support to innovators and inventors who have developed science and engineering based technologies and products.
It launched a venture fund in 2019 after raising ZAR110 million (US$7.8 million) from the SA SME Fund, and has since invested in a number of companies, including Jonga and SmartBlade.
In the last year, Savant has made five investments. In the second half of 2020, it backed Astrofica Technologies, which aims to build an African-owned and controlled satellite constellation that offers highly accurate, real-time earth observation data; Cognitive Systems, which has built an AI engine on which specific AI solutions can be built; and Vekta Innovations, which has developed a fitness and health management solution that is used in industrial and professional sports settings.
So far in 2021, Savant has invested in Inxor, an advertising technology provider that replaces the traditional price pole with an intelligent brand engagement solution; and Renewco, which builds, owns and operates small scale utility power generation and waste management capacity in the local market. It is also about to do a follow-on round into Vekta.
More than ZAR18 million (US$1.22 million) has been deployed into those five companies.
“Savant is happy to take the early stage investment risk that other investors won’t – filling a crucial gap in the ecosystem,” said Allen.
“One of Savant’s approaches is to invest small amounts of up to ZAR1.5 million at a very early stage in order to prepare companies for going to market and ensure they are investment ready. This ensures we have a consistent pipeline of investable deals that we can invest significantly more into. This helps us lower risk and build a broader portfolio. We love innovators that build hardware that makes a difference. In other words: real products that solve problems.”