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MTN Mind2Machine awards to recognise SA M2M innovation

South Africa's first M2M innovation awards, the MTN Mind2Machine awards, will take place in Johannesburg later this week.

The MTN Mind2Machine awards, to be presented at a gala event on Thursday, are the culmination of MTN's six-month Mind2Machine developers' challenge, staged in partnership with The Innovation Hub and Intel. The challenge was launched to coincide with the launch of MTN's pan-African IOT platform in April this year, with the goal of fostering the growth of M2M locally and encouraging South African innovators to build locally relevant solutions on MTN's platform.

Mandisa Ntloko, head of Marketing at MTN Business South Africa, reports that 49 entrants participated in the first challenge – a number that is encouraging, considering how new IOT development is in South Africa.

"We were excited to see the high level of innovation emerging from participants, and there are opportunities for us to partner with a number of them to help them take their solutions to market in future," she says. Entrants ranged from students and graduates to SMEs, and MTN noted a strong focus on solutions designed to address current challenges in South Africa, including reducing electricity consumption and monitoring goods in transit. Participants were required to develop a working prototype software solution and demonstrate scalability and a business case for the final concept.

"The focus areas and calibre of entries are an indication that we have talented local developers looking to M2M solutions to deal with real life business challenges, which is in line with our mandates at MTN to contribute to economic development through ICT, and to engage with communities. There is a realisation within MTN that if we are to make economic progress across South Africa and the continent, we need to wake up the entrepreneurial spirit within innovators and support the development of locally relevant, scalable solutions that would be useful for South Africa, and later for pan-Africa," says Ntloko.

"For MTN, IT is part of our strategic intent, and we see digitisation and IOT technologies as integral to the future of public sector, industry and business. Therefore, initiatives such as our App of the Year challenge and Mind2Machine Challenge seek to stimulate the development of solutions that are appropriate and scalable within the African context."

The first annual Mind2Machine awards will include an overall award and a breakthrough award, with the category winners to be assisted in monetising their solutions in conjunction with MTN Business.

MTN plans to enhance and expand the Mind2Machine challenge in future, with the second annual challenge set to launch at the end of Q116.

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