NWU alumnus’ project impresses at Royal Academy of Engineering

Marelize Santana -- Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:41

NWU alumnus’ project impresses at Royal Academy of Engineering

North-West University (NWU) Alumnus Sydwell Sihlangu recently attended the Leaders in Innovation Fellowship training programme on technology commercialisation from 18 January to 1 February 2020 at the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom.

This academy brings together the most successful and talented engineers from across the engineering sectors and the world to advance and promote global excellence in engineering and innovation.

Sydwell was selected as part of a global community of almost a 1 000 innovators from 17 countries to take part in this programme.

No stranger to innovation

Sydwell’s innovative African Hut Mushroom Dome project earned him the Technology Innovation Agency’s 2019 Grassroots Innovation Programme (GIP) award in 2019.

This project was started during his master’s degree research when he cultivated oyster mushrooms, typically grown in subtropical regions, in the dry Mahikeng region with the leftover residue from crop harvests.

He says this project was an innovative leap forward to produce mushrooms at low cost as a food security initiative.

Opening new doors

Sidwell says he appreciates all the opportunities that have come his way.

“It has been an overwhelming feeling to be invited to Prince Philip’s house and to have the opportunity to put my project to the test against other great global projects on the world's biggest stage for innovators and entrepreneurs,” says Sidwell.

He says he was surprised and delighted when his African Hut Mushroom Dome was announced as one of the top projects.

“The project is set to receive global support and mentorship for a duration of 12 months. David Falzani, a professor at Nottingham University Business School and an entrepreneur who has started five companies and raised over £6 m in venture capital for those companies, will be my mentor,” adds Sidwell.

More about the Leaders in Innovation Fellowships Programme

The Leaders in Innovation Fellowship programme is run by the Royal Academy of Engineering and funded by the UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Newton Fund programme.

The fellowship brings the leading technology entrepreneurs from Newton Fund partner countries to the UK for an intensive training course on innovation while also building business-to-business networks with similar enterprises in the UK.


Sydwell Sihlangu and David Falzani who will be his mentor.