Jeremy Wallis

JWallis_Making the invisible visible: UViRCO, an innovation success story

Jeremy Wallis
Wallis manages sensor science and technology at the CSIR. He holds a Master’s degree in science from the University of the Witwatersrand. His focus is on sensor materials, devices, systems and applications with a particular interest in seeing science and technology applied to real-world applications. His experience spans the application of ultrasonic and electro-optic technologies in fields such as defence, healthcare, transport and energy.

About the talk: Over the past 15 years, electro-optical engineers at the CSIR have developed the CoroCAM range of products for use in power line inspection. These powerful systems enable the visualisation of problems on faulty insulators and power line connections by sensing across the visible, ultraviolet and infrared wave bands. The CSIR produced a prototype of the world’s first imaging system that was instrumental in detecting ultra-violet energy emitted from faulty insulators on power lines on any sunlit day. This prototype had global impact potential that led to the development of updated versions of the technology with a sizeable export opportunity fostered by the use of an international network of distribution agents.

The CoroCAM and MultiCAM series of imaging systems was developed in partnership with Eskom over more than a decade and resulted in the CSIR spinning out the core team to manufacture and export to global markets. The high-tech start-up, UViRCO, was established in 2008 and now, seven years after the spin-out, the CSIR is ready to exit its share to a black economic empowerment investor. The UViRCO team has managed to grow the business over this time and, to date, has exported some 400 camera systems. In-house improvements to the cameras, as well as new camera technology from the CSIR have helped keep the cameras fresh and relevant in their intended market and, as it progresses into the future, UViRCO is expanding its product range to include value-add accessories that aid in their operation. This presentation will unpack the 15 year journey – a South African success story.

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