The Stellenbosch group taking South African innovation global

Alphawave CEO Frans Meyer

A technology holding company based in Stellenbosch is quietly building a portfolio of cutting-edge tech companies, some of which are now finding success in international markets.

Alphawave Group, which is based at Technopark in Stellenbosch, and which has its origins dating back to 1994 and a company called EMSS, includes a company that helps protect telecommunications industry workers from harmful radiation.

Alphawave is led by CEO Frans Meyer, who has a PhD in electromagnetics and a master’s in electrical and electronic engineering, from the University of Stellenbosch. He co-founded the company 28 years ago as EMSS with Gronum Smith, who also has a PHD from Stellenbosch, to provide electromagnetic consulting services to the South African industry.

Together they developed computational electromagnetic software, which grew into a standalone product called FEKO. FEKO sold thousands of licences globally to customers including Nasa, Boeing and BMW. EMSS sold the FEKO business to US technology company Altair Engineering in 2014 for an undisclosed amount.

Over the same period, new entities were established in EMSS to service related markets, which led to the formation of the group of technology companies. EMSS then rebranded itself in 2017 to Alphawave Group.

Today, Alphawave has 16 companies in its portfolio and more than 350 employees, including 165 engineers, developers and data scientists. The main focus of the companies in the group’s portfolio is on electronics, data and software. It has domain expertise in sensor technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science and software development (mobile and Web), with an emphasis on helping build South African companies and take their solutions abroad, where appropriate.

To reduce the risk involved in business development, the group provides support for sustainable software development processes and practices, hardware design, and production in a commercial environment.

FieldSense’s technology helps protect telecoms workers from harmful radiation. Image: FieldSense

Meyer tells TechCentral: “Our approach to partnering with the top-performing teams and individuals in South Africa has given us a good track record of building high-performing tech businesses. Around 50% of our portfolio companies are selling internationally.”

The group’s portfolio includes companies such as Inrange, which uses radar and virtual technology to help golfers (beginners and pros) improve their game by tracking each swing, and FieldSense, which designs radio frequency monitors that are made to protect personnel working near broadcast and telecoms antennas from harmful radiation. FieldSense provides its services to Vodacom and MTN.

One of the latest innovations from Alphawave is from speech analytics company Callbi, which has created a secure cloud-based speech analytics solution for call centres. Its proprietary speech-to-text technology specifically caters to South African languages and accents. The tech is currently being used by companies such as Momentum and debt management company DMC.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media

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