COVID-19 pandemic opens window for new innovations

Innovation will need to be the next best thing for many South Africans to cope with the “new normal” during this COVID-19 pandemic.

A student from Tshwane University of Technology, Denzil Bothma, has been shortlisted for his innovative solutions in the Dubai Global Grad Show to address COVID-19 issues.

The third-year industrial design student created two concepts that have now gone global, to fight against this disease. The concepts include the Wheeler Hub – food trucks on the move and Micro-Mask – a smart mask for uninterrupted protection.

“After submitting my designs to the Global Grad Show they were evaluated by a panel. Thereafter, they contacted me and I was informed that one of my designs, the Wheeler- Hub, was shortlisted among 30 others,” said Bothma.

The ecstatic 21-year-old came up tops from the 390 other entries from all over the world. “My first thought was that this is unreal but then it eventually struck me. I was really excited to be on the shortlist, selected from a group of 390 excellent designers. This was an opportunity to help me get exposure.”

The Montana, Pretoria-born student said the Wheeler-Hub is a food truck concept based on the ice-cream kombis that drives up and down the neighbourhoods selling ice-cream.

“The Wheeler-Hub will be loaded with essential goods [for example food, beverages, pet food and sanitizers]. These trucks will be sent out to the cities, towns and villages.

“[The plan is to] make it easy [for people] to buy essentials from the trucks, preventing them from gathering in groups in shops, assisting those who don’t have transport to get their essentials and, in the process, to also help create jobs.”

Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said in a statement: “It is extremely encouraging to see, in critical times such as these, that one of Dubai’s own homegrown initiatives calls on the world to come together and find solutions for current and future problems posed by the spread of COVID-19.”

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