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Ellen Fischat

Co-Founder of Innocircle (Pty) Ltd

Ellen Fischat is the Co-Founder of Innocircle, a boutique, innovation consultancy. She holds an Honour’s Degree in Social Work and Community Development and a number of small business and technology certificates. She returned to South Africa, her place of birth, after a 23 year stint in Amsterdam. Upon her return to South Africa in 2006, she ran a Boy’s Home and 7 day care centres for two years in multiple townships in Port Elizabeth Ellen set up various community initiatives based on social entrepreneurship principles. Ellen expanded on her people development and strategic skills and co-founded a HR Boutique Consultancy in 2008.

Before being the first Managing Director for The Silicon Cape Initiative in 2017, Ellen was the Business Manager for Propella Business Incubator, the NMU Incubator in Nelson Mandela Bay. Prior to that, she was the Enterprise Development Manager for the SEDA NMB ICT Incubator 2011-2015,

Ellen has extensive experience in small business development, with a focus on social enterprises and technology. Ellen is involved in the mentorship of technology start-ups and volunteers in various community outreach programmes, that focus on personal development, digital literacy and increasing employability of marginalized young women through STEM initiatives.

Karen Eksteen

Co-Founder of Innocircle (Pty) Ltd

Karen has over 10 years innovation management experience focused on innovation investment, technology innovation, business incubation and tech nology transfer management. She holds a M-degree in Business Leadership from University of South Africa and a BSc Hons (Microbiology) from the University of Free State, SA.

As a founding member of Innocircle (Pty) Ltd – an innovation consultancy - Karen gets to live her passion for entrepreneurship, innovation management of new technologies, new venture creation, supporting and facilitating the technology innovation process.

Previously at the Technology Innovation Agency and Cape Biotech Trust as an Innovation Skills Development Manager, Karen lead and managed a number of skills interventions that were targeted at national and international skills transfer and partnering initiatives to improve the innovation capacity in South Africa.

She participated in the Innovation Systems Leadership Programme (ISLP) sponsored by the Department of Science & Technology and COFISA (Cooperation between Finland and South Africa). The aim of the programme was to identify individuals that could influence the National System of Innovation. Karen was a founding member of the Southern African Innovation Network (SAINe), which was launched as a result of the ISLP.

Some of her past experience includes senior positions at Cape Biotech Trust, Status Staffing Solutions and Swift Micro Laboratories.

Karen’s motto in life:

If you really believe in what you are doing, work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up. ~ Laurie Notaro

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