News From Our Spin-Out Companies: New Directions, New Capabilities and New Equipment

News From Our Spin-Out Companies: New Directions, New Capabilities and New Equipment

News From Our Spin-Out Companies: New Directions, New Capabilities and New Equipment

GeoSmart – A new name, a new site, and a new direction

‘A rose by any other name…’, some say. But SUDEM, now called GeoSmart, does not smell as good – it is even better. What was started in 2000 by Prof Adriaan van Niekerk, and already has a TIA Seed Fund Grant under their belt, has grown substantially, into a fully-fledged spin-out company.

A recap: SUDEM (or Stellenbosch University Digital Elevation Model) gives accurate (to 5m and 2m) terrestrial information to farmers, city planners and anyone else who needs to know the exact topography of a particular piece of land. The other DEMs that were around at the time were either too localised, or too low-resolution, to be completely useful, which is why SUDEM made so many waves in the industry. Where the rest failed, SUDEM succeeded, by aggregating all the various sources of information into one, high-resolution data-set, and the resulting picture allows us to plan our towns, disaster recovery, plantations and houses.

With some assistance from Innovus, Prof Adriaan has made some significant improvements, not only to the product, and the name – GeoSmart is far sexier – but also to the way it is delivered to the outside world. They decided, rather than letting their customers interpret the data, they would provide those clear, high resolution images themselves, targeted for different market needs thereby expanding their range. Municipalities receive GeoDataPacks, which collect geospatial datasets ‘tailored for improving decision making and solving geographical problems’ while the Crop Condition Monitoring System, Crop Health Map and Crop Moisture Map provide farmers with automatically generated reports. The agricultural benefits are already being seen in Angola and Namibia.

To help communicate the company’s new direction and positioning, their digital home is up and running, and you can visit it to find out more here.

Adriaan is continually pushing the profitability of GeoSmart, by coming up with new products and specific new markets to target. While SUDEM 5 (the 5m resolution product) already covers the whole country, they are also quickly covering it with SUDEM 2 as well, and have already hit 40% coverage (from the 20% coverage just a few months ago!). When you have the bird’s eye view, the data and the insight, there’s not much that will hold GeoSmart from informing better decisions from Paarl right through to Parys.



When Justa Niemand decided to form a self-sufficient, stand-alone business that specialises in the publication of research outputs from universities, publishers and printers told her that it would never work.

Since 2003, AFRICAN SUN MeDIA has gone from strength to strength, proving just how wrong all those critics were.

Many universities have their own Scholarly Presses and printing departments, equipped with the technology needed to do their own publishing. However, what’s lacking, is the specialist skills required to do so successfully. For this reason, the university press is often the most underutilised department in these universities and a massive drain on capital.

With 20 years of tertiary and professional publishing experience under her fashionable hat at McGraw-Hill Book Company, Macmillan-SA, Southern Book Publishers, Juta & Company and Van Schaik Publishers, Justa knew she could do something special at Stellenbosch University. The initial R600 000 loan that was required to get the idea off the ground was paid back, in full, in just 24 months, and proved that she was right, once again.

The business is entirely independent, with Stellenbosch University amongst the shareholders, financially healthy & self-sufficient, and expanding rapidly. Because of this independence, they handle niche market research outputs (beautifully executed), eBooks and the on-demand printing needs of many universities. Annual reports. Exam papers. Course material. Posters and banners. In fact, there’s very little in the non-fiction world they dont do.

They are adept at bespoke publishing needs as well. If you’d like some specific references, please check out ‘Russel Botman – A Tribute’ or Schalk van der Merwe’s comprehensive history of Afrikaans music from 1900 to now, ‘On Record’. Even Chris Brink and Allan Boesak have published through AFRICAN SUN MeDIA.

Because the group handle everything from design and layout to copywriting and eBook conversion, they’ve built a strong and solid reputation inside, and outside, the academic market. Corporate clients have also come a’ knocking for high-quality, fastidiously crafted course material, conference proceedings and annual reports.

All of the above is handled by specialist operations around the country. In Bloemfontein, you can find a similar full-service model to the one running out of Stellenbosch, putting the company closer to its clients, while SUNMeDIA STUDIO is a fully operational, and very talented, design and print division. In their widely accessible SUN-e-SHOP, all ASM publications are available 24/7 for online purchasing. Copies of the books you seek will be despatched within 48 hours from the transaction approval, allowing for print-on-demand (PoD) of out-of-stock titles, or you can visit the App store to access the digital versions thereof.

If you are reading a thesis, and it is bound, illustrated and professional, there’s a solid chance that it came from the workhorse that is AFRICAN SUN MeDIA. For the last 15 years, they have been the ones who make sure that the work we do as academics stays in the light, to be enjoyed by all, rather than dot-matrix-printed, stapled and relegated to a dusty storeroom. Even though they are one of the oldest companies in the Innovus portfolio, we believe they will continue to do this, with all the passion and professionalism that made them who they are today, well into the future.


Maties GymSweating the Assets

If you haven’t been to Maties Gymnasium recently, then we recommend you get off the couch and do so. You’re in for a treat!

The gym you thought it was– lacklustre, behind the times and underutilised – has been replaced with a location that should have ‘World Class!’ written in big, neon letter above the entrance. It is now a place of focus that is as attractive to our students and the public as it is to professionals and international athletes.

Since it was rebranded in 2015, General Manager Francois Kotze has made some impressive additions and changes, and we’re not just talking about some refurbishments. The equipment is state-of-the-art, and even disability-friendly, as is the access to the gym, the lowered reception desk and the all-access flooring. The HighPerformance area is jammed with everything from Olympic lifting platforms to powerlifting bars, and has hosted international athletics federations (UK, German and Austria) along with the more regular Maties rugby, football and hockey fraternities, amongst others. There is a Cardio area, a group training area, an indoor and outdoor pool, recovery centre and an indoor track for those who like to get their run on, regardless of the weather. Five floors of power!

If you do decide to dust off your gym sweats and make an appearance, you won’t be alone. The Gym now welcomes more than 50 000 visitors a month, and boasts over 6 700 active members – that is a 400% increase since 2013. And Francois’ competitive nature isn’t stopping there. The HighPerformance area will receive a total refurbishment, while the Technogym UNITYTM Self Interactive Touch Screen will work perfectly as a digital complement to the planned App that will track user performance inside and outside the Gym.

If you are worried about the costs – don’t! Much like the equipment, there is a membership structure for absolutely anyone. And you can pay through a variety of options, from cash to EFT, debit orders and even on your student account!