Awards for Lapdesk, food scheme and credit site

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A number of unique projects have received innovation awards, amongst them a Lapdesk, a solar-powered feeding scheme for a township school and a national credit site.

The Lapdesk, an innovative alternative to the traditional classroom desk, has won an innovation award, as it could help address the lack of classroom desks experienced by children in some rural communities.

The invention received Grand Prix accolade at the 2007 iHero Awards evening on Thursday. The awards are an initiative of innovationTOWN, which is sponsored by the South African Post Office, African Bank and entrepreneur Richard Branson.

The Lapdesk's ergonomic design means that any child can hold the Lapdesk against their body or sit with it on their lap giving them an effective writing surface whether sitting under a tree in a rural school, in a classroom without desks or at home.

Government has prioritised the education sector and has endeavoured to wipe out the phenomenon of "learners under trees.'

Apart from dedicating the largest slice of the national budget to education this year, R520 million has been invested in the re-equipping and the refurbishment of further education and training in the past two years.

Delivering his Provincial Budgets and Expenditure Review for 2003/ 04 - 2009/ 10, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said government had, over the past four years built over 400 new schools and 18 000 classrooms.

From science to business and education, iHero Awards saw South Africa's leading innovators being celebrated for their incredible achievements.

Taddy Blecher, chief executive officer of CIDA City Campus, co-founder of innovationTOWN has often highlighted the urgency of private and public sector collaboration able to facilitate government innovation and focus on better service delivery.

This in turn will allow innovative entrepreneurs to build the backbone of the country's economy.

The 2007 iHero Awards ceremony also marked the launch of the Innovation Faire, an innovation showcase which will run at the Sci Bono Discovery centre from 4 to 7 October.

Another winning invention was in the iBusiness category, for Nedbank?s Power Billboard.

Nedbank's solar powered billboard is an innovation that has brought

a new dimension to outdoor advertising in South Africa.

By integrating solar panels into a traditional outdoor format, much needed electricity has been generated for a disadvantaged school in a poor township.

The power harnessed enables the school's kitchen to provide 1100 meals daily and provides much needed visibility at night, powering spotlights for extra security.

In the iGovernment category, an invention to help with the roll-out of the National Credit Act took the prize.

This collaboration between Digital Solutions and the National Credit Regulator resulted in the creation of a Debt Help web site.

The NCR Debt Help web site will allow National Credit Regulator Debt

Counsellors - key figures in ensuring the act is properly understood and absorbed by ordinary South Africans to log on and source additional information.

The information will be relevant to the person they are currently dealing with, and will be available from any location.

Thanks to DSG, Debt Counsellors will now be able to service South Africans in all corners of the country in a highly efficient manner.

BuaNews