Five SA start-ups nominated for Irish Tech Challenge

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 16 Nov 2023
Finalists of the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa will gain access to the Irish tech ecosystem with further potential funding opportunities.
Finalists of the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa will gain access to the Irish tech ecosystem with further potential funding opportunities.

The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa has announced the five South African tech start-ups that will participate in the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023.

Now in its second year, the challenge is a collaboration between the Embassy of Ireland, in partnership with Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Dogpatch Labs Ireland.

The Irish Tech Challenge targets start-ups whose work aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It aims to forge mutually-beneficial partnerships between South African entrepreneurs and Irish technology expertise, harnessing Ireland’s position as a global high-tech hub.

Furthermore, it looks to be a platform for tech entrepreneurs from both countries to thrive through collaboration, networking and mentorship.

According to a statement, this year’s challenge saw nearly 300 entries from South African-owned, growth-stage tech start-ups focused on fulfilling the UN SDGs.

The five selected start-ups have undergone an intensive pre-acceleration programme, with workshops, master-classes and mentorship sessions.

The innovators will now showcase their solutions at an event to be held at Tshimologong on Tuesday, 21 November.

They will head to Ireland in February 2024 for an acceleration programme with Dogpatch Labs, a 500-member start-up and innovation hub in Dublin.

Daan Du Toit, deputy director-general for international cooperation and resources, says: “The Irish Tech Challenge represents a significant step in our ongoing efforts to bridge the gap between South African ingenuity and global markets.

“Through this partnership, we are unlocking new opportunities for our local tech entrepreneurs, contributing significantly to sustainable economic development.”

Lesley-Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, comments: “The talent and innovation we’ve seen this year are testament to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa.

“Our role in nurturing these start-ups at the Tshimologong Precinct has been immensely rewarding, and we’re excited to see how they evolve and make their mark globally.”

The selected innovators and start-ups are:

  • Thato Schermer – Zoie Health, an all-in-one women’s health and family online platform. Created by women for women, it provides accessible healthcare services for women and families.
  • Neo Hutiri – Pelebox, a smart locker system that enables patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under two minutes.
  • Vuyo Pakade –Foonda Africa, a Pan-African talent marketplace that aims to unlock Africa’s next generation of talent. It connects companies with skilled young candidates.
  • Benedicta Durcan, AfroBodies, a biotechnology company that produces recombinant alpaca antibodies to supply the local and global life sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic markets.
  • Tumelo Chiloane – Desert Green, an agritech firm that aims to transform the informal agri-value chain in SA and Africa by enabling an efficient supply of fresh produce from small-scale farmers to informal traders. GreenKart, its B2B e-commerce platform, allows small-scale farmers to list recently-planted crops to help farmers access markets and minimise post-harvest losses.

The Irish Tech Challenge will award the five selected entrepreneurs with:

  • Up to €10 000 each in funding.
  • A funded trip to Ireland, where they will be part of a business networking programme with access to the country’s top business leaders.
  • Access to the Irish tech ecosystem, with potential opportunities for further funding.
  • Acceleration support to position their global scaling strategy in collaboration with Dogpatch Labs.