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Motsepe Foundation unveils R28m global innovation programme

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Dr Patrice Motsepe, founder and chairman of the Motsepe Foundation.
Dr Patrice Motsepe, founder and chairman of the Motsepe Foundation.

The Patrice Motsepe Foundation has partnered with US-based Milken Institute to launch a multimillion-rand Milken-Motsepe innovation prize programme, calling upon entrepreneurs to find technological solutions that enhance the agriculture, energy, education and health sectors.

Agritech solutions stand to benefit the most, with prize money of $2 million (R28.4 million) as the Milken-Motsepe programme seeks innovative solutions to increase economic value to farmers, from seed to sale.

Teams have until 8 December to register and submit designs and business models. An independent panel of expert judges will select up to 25 teams to each receive $10 000 to develop small-scale prototypes over the ensuing six months.

In a statement, the Milken Institute says emphasis will be placed on technological solutions that accelerate progress towards implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a spotlight on the African continent.

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, comments: “This prize competition will tap into global entrepreneurial and technological potential, including among women and the growing youth population across the African continent and worldwide. We’re confident the competition will attract a diverse group of participants across the world who want to engage with a broad network of resources to action their innovative ideas.

“The Milken-Motsepe Prize in Agritech was developed through rigorous and inclusive consultations with more than 50 experts from a variety of disciplines, representing academia, industry and government, to define the competition guidelines and evaluation metrics. Field testing will take place in Africa and solutions should have the potential to be applied globally.”

Commenting on the initiative, Milken Institute chairman Mike Milken says: “The Motsepe Foundation’s leadership has been highly effective in Africa and inspiring to people around the world. I’m delighted that we will again join forces to encourage long-term technological innovation and enhance the human capital of farmers so they can play a greater role in sustaining a more-dynamic regional economy.”

For Dr Patrice Motsepe, founder and chairman of the Motsepe Foundation, the programme is meant to encourage entrepreneurs to solve societal problems.

“Fourth industrial revolution technologies have the power to solve complicated socio-economic and human problems. In the hands of entrepreneurs, these technologies can turn Africa into a global economic powerhouse and transform the world.”

Prize competitions encourage innovation, diversify the talent pool, and inspire new voices from budding entrepreneurs to seasoned engineers, adds Dr Emily Musil Church, senior director in the Milken Institute’s Centre for Global Market Development.

“We are pleased to introduce this approach to advancing the SDGs that will harness the power of technology to solve global challenges and create true systems of change.”

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