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UWC, partners launch Gov-X Innovation Challenge

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Gov-X Innovation Challenge, a cyber-themed learning programme and hackathon, will take place between February and May this year.

The event is a public-private sector collaboration that aims to inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and cyber security specialists to tackle challenges of cyber security and online gender-based violence.

Working with the CyberSecurity Hub and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, the University of the Western Cape: Future-Innovation Lab has partnered with KnowBe4, TrendMicro, BCX, Bi-Technologies, Vox Telecom, NClose, Black Rhino, and Bi-Tech Africa to host the challenge.

According to Anna Collard, SVP of content strategy and evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, the objective of the challenge is to drive innovation towards a more digitised and cyber-safe SA.

“Data breaches rose by an alarming 500% during the pandemic and this has put immense pressure on businesses to protect data and individuals,” she says. “There’s also increased awareness around the lack of support for victims of online gender-based violence in Africa, with a significant percentage of women concerned about their safety online.”

She says the event hopes to attract more people to the cyber security industry. “There is a lack of cyber security skills in Africa, with only 10 000 professionals on the continent today. Our goal is to work together to find innovative approaches to meet the urgent need for strong cyber security response capacities to protect citizens as well as enhance security skills development.”

Prof José Frantz, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, says the need for improved cyber security is real for everyone. "Also, raising the awareness of cyber bullying which is used as a way of controlling, threatening and bullying others is essential. As we aim to engage in this topic of cyber security, let's use our talents and creativity to help improve cyber security for all.”

The Gov-X challenge is open to students over the age of 18 and the deadline to apply is 1 February 2021. Participants will work on ideas designed to tackle cyber security issues facing businesses and critical infrastructure providers, and ultimately, to provide secure spaces in which vulnerable end users can live, work and transact online. The ideas and solution that will be presented to the judges should focus on:

- Helping victims of cyber crime and preventing cyber crime;

- Helping victims of online gender-based violence and preventing online gender-based violence;

- Raising cyber awareness among citizens and communities;

- Finding innovative approaches for SA’s Cyber Security Hub (CERT),  www.cybersecurityhub.gov.za.

Participants will receive hands-on training, tutorials and advice from security specialists throughout the process. 

Prizes include R100 000 for first place, R30 000 for second and R10 000 for third, as well as bursaries for cyber security qualifications. Entrants will also have the opportunity to earn internships at sponsorship organisations and mentorships with industry leaders.

To participate in the innovation challenge, register by 1 February, here.

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