The coveted global Unicorn Cup final, for the startup business with the highest investment potential, was won on May 13 this year by South African pneumatic technology pioneer Magnevane.
Magnevane South Africa executive and business owner Gareth Rees was part of the team that claimed victory against several startups with enormous investment potential from various parts of the world.
The competition, which helps profile top companies to venture capitalists and investors, saw last year’s winner raise $22-million off the back of the awards.
“We are chuffed that years of hard work and perseverance are now paying off.
There is a clear need for energy efficient products to be prioritised, not only in South Africa but around the world, as power sources become increasingly depleted and environmental pressures mount,” Rees says.
Magnevane has commercialised intellectual property that has the potential to disrupt the pneumatics sector – a R1.3-trillion global market using over 10% of all industrial electricity.
The company’s unique selling proposition is an increase of more than 40% efficiency, higher start-up torque, longer maintenance cycles and more consistent performance than any pneumatic motor currently on sale.
In South Africa, Magnevane is working with leading gold and platinum mines to transform their pneumatic network efficiency through the introduction of equipment that is more efficient and can operate at lower pressure.
Johannesburg is Magnevane’s African hub and the Magnevane team there, led by Magnevane Africa CEO Rees, is exploring opportunities to license Magnevane technology to local partners covering manufacturing, distribution and equipment servicing, with a particular focus on black economic-empowerment partners as they develop and grow their businesses and look for competitive advantage in the industrial sector.
“Magnevane is a global story with South African beginnings in the town of Nelspruit, where inventors Stephen Nicholson and Mike Spencer first came up with the idea of using super magnets in compressed air motors to create a tight seal between theslidingvane and motor housing,” Rees explains.
The results from their first experiments far exceeded their expectations, as they had created a motor that was, even at that early stage of development, more efficient than the best motors in the world.
“A Canadian investor Karim Premji was inspired by the impact that the Magnevane technology could have on the world and provided the seed funding to register provisional patents, develop working prototypes and to secure multinational professional services provider Deloitte as a global commercialisation partner.
“Later in 2017, a Portuguese investor Jiva Remtula, and now Magnevane’sglobal CEO, provided the Series A funding allowing the acquisition of precision manufacturing facilities in Trofa, Portugal, as well as the development and patenting of the first range of Magnevane products,” Rees explains.
He states that, in this way, Magnevane was born as a global organisation, made possible only because of the talent, resources and vision of three parties from different corners of the globe.
Rees adds that Magnevane is poised for global expansion across mining, oil and gas, paper and pulp and the chemicals sectors as it builds out its product suite, executive team and network of specialised partners.
“In the context of South African startups, the growing success of Magnevane and this win is indicative that startups can get exposure internationally, if they have an innovative and powerful platform or product,” concludes Rees.