Accenture Innovation Conference 2015


The inaugural Accenture Innovation Conference, held on 26 February at The Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead, drew some of the world’s leading innovators, ideators and thought leaders to kickstart a conversation: How can South African companies best use innovation to achieve greater competitiveness and job-based growth?

Themed Dare to Disrupt, the conference challenged business, government and educational leaders to join hands in an innovation movement that—if adopted with urgency—could finally see South Africa take its rightful place on the global economic stage.

The celebrated line-up of speakers focused on a broad range of topics, with several key refrains—using breakthrough digital platforms to gain the insights that can inform new business models; formalising an innovation capability backed by strong leadership, a robust innovative culture and open innovation; and above all, fearlessly embracing change.

disrupt or be disrupted

#AccentureIC2015 | #innovment

watch the conference highlights


The Accenture Innovation Index Awards rewards South African innovation as identified and measured by the Accenture Innovation Index in two categories– Overall Innovation Masters and Top Innovative Concepts.

accenture innovation index 2014 overall masters & top innovative concept winners

From left to right: William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture in South Africa; Charles Savage, Easy Equities; Lee Naik, managing director – Accenture Technology Strategy; Antony Meltzer, Blue Strata; Romain Orlin, Blue Strata; Ludwick Marishane; Lisa Bodell; Greg Brandeau; Linda Trim, Leap; Hilton Anthony, AngelShack

top innovative concepts

A great South African product, system or service innovations that have been commercialised in the marketplace for at least a day. The winner this year is Easy Equities – First World Trader (Pty) Ltd.

overall master zenith award

The Accenture Innovation Index 2014 Overall Master Zenith Award for organisations with an annual turnover of more than R40 million, went to Blue Strata Trading.

overall innovation masters

Can be listed or unlisted companies, non-governmental or public organisations. They may come from any industry and their size is immaterial.

overall master apex award

The Accenture Innovation Index 2014 Overall Master Apex Award for organisations with an annual turnover of less than R40 million, went to Angel Shack (Pty) Ltd.

Accenture Innovation Index and Forbes supplement

The Accenture Innovation Index, introduced in 2013, measures, recognises and rewards innovation in organisations of all sizes in the South African public and private sectors. It aims to provide an authoritative and objective snapshot of the state of innovation in the country.

The 2014 Accenture Innovation Index key findings are featured in an innovation supplement to the March edition of Forbes Africa along with a series of research-based innovation articles.

Press and social media

The Innovation Conference has had excellent foundational coverage across a broad range of leading media. The twitterverse ignited, and #AccentureIC2015 shot to #1 among the day’s trending topics at midnight, overtaking the #Budget2015 speech of the previous day. As the national conversation veered momentarily towards a broad innovation agenda and imperative, 26 February may live on as another historic moment when South Africans were reminded of their common purpose.

twitter feed


The Innovation Conference brought together 1,500 delegates from business, government and academia to share in the knowledge of the world’s top innovation experts and get close to the bleeding-edge innovation concepts shortlisted for the day’s Innovation Awards.

In-between sessions, there was time to get acquainted. These are the scenes.

what the speakers had to say

William Mzimba

Chief Executive of Accenture in South Africa, delivered a hard-hitting keynote address, calling for an innovation revolution to pull South Africa back from looming economic ruin. He urged delegates to prepare for an all-out innovative push by embracing the digital age, rethinking business models, provisioning the necessary infrastructure, and thinking, speaking and facilitating innovation at every turn.

Sebastian Thrun

Google Glass inventor, Stanford professor and CEO of Udacity, wowed audiences with the innovative adventures that allowed him to carve out a career in sharing inventions and intellectual property. As head of Google X he has been involved in some stunning achievements, but his most progressive legacy is social. A recurring theme of his inventions is that they’re either done for free or given away, or else have some other social significance.

Mpho Parks Tau

Executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg, observed that capital, institutions and infrastructure all feed into innovation. The design of cities is therefore hugely important to the efficiency of a nation’s innovation engines. The City has set out to right the wrongs of the past with “corridors of access”, and has embarked on a range of key projects in partnership with industry, NGOs and institutions.

Greg Brandeau

Former Chief of Technology at Pixar and Walt Disney, addressed the conference on innovative culture and unlocking the collective genius of organisations. The answer, he said, is in creating creative tension between individual and collective genius—balancing a safe place for ideas to germinate with the steel-tempering heat of robust collective scrutiny. Essentially, it would seem to come down to marrying an entrepreneurial mind-set to a corporate one.

Ludwick Marishane

South Africa’s youngest patent holder and inventor of DryBath, tackled the issue of squandered innovation. Often a drive for progress is stifled or overlooked in business, or a young, often disadvantaged entrepreneur, lacks the tools to bring them to fruition. No longer content to be “The DryBath Guy”, Ludwick has been helping individuals and companies bridge the gap between South Africa’s innovation surplus and entrepreneurial deficit.

Clayton Christensen

Harvard Business School Professor and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, delivered a brilliant analysis of the reasons behind the increasingly long tails of the nine US recessions since World War II—from six months for the first one to 70 for the last one in 2008—and in doing so imparted illuminating lessons for innovation, growth and job creation. The common denominator, he pointed out, has been a failure to invest in market-creating innovations.

Lisa Bodell

CEO of futurethink and author of Kill the Company, set out to convince delegates that, in order to survive in a fast-changing world, they should kill their companies—or at least the qualities in them that are hostile to innovation. Figure out your weak points and get rid of them. Then turn this knowledge and agility against your competitors. Always figure out where to next, and start chasing the talent pool that will get you there.

Patrick H Gaspard

US ambassador to South Africa, brought valuable lessons of the sustained US recovery from the Great Recession of 2007. Gaspard cautioned that innovation didn’t sprout from conferences where the elite mingled but rather “at the point where desperation meets opportunity”. Urging South Africa’s government, business and civil sectors to take opportunity to townships and rural areas, he said it is vital to engage with the dispossessed and youth “in a transformative way about power”.


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