Innovation challenge galore hits SA

Read time 3min 20sec
Several organisations are looking to scale SA's tech start-ups.
Several organisations are looking to scale SA's tech start-ups.

It's innovation challenge galore, as different South African organisations are looking to take local innovators to the next level.

The SA Innovation Summit is in its 10th year and at this year's event, inventors, innovators and established companies have the opportunity to enter their product into the Inventor's Garage and/or Pitching Den competitions on a grander scale, the organisers say.

"We are looking forward to seeing global and local founder driven talent displayed at the summit," says Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, summit director. "The competitions are an important part of the summit, with finalists and winners exposed to a large number of investors and standing a chance to win incredible prizes, funding opportunities, and a move into international markets."

The Pitching Den competition is open to high-growth start-ups, established companies and large corporates that are driving innovation on the African continent.

"The Pitching Den was designed to recognise companies whose innovative tech-enabled solutions have the potential to make a significant impact on the growth of the continent," says Verhaeghe.

The overall winners will be announced at an award ceremony and will be entered into the Start-up World Cup in Silicon Valley, where they will compete with the best start-ups from all over the world, for the grand prize of $1 million.

Winners will also receive public relations exposure worth R500 000 and business matching-making and acceleration, the organisers say.

Entries to the Pitching Den are made online. Finalists will be invited to pitch their business to a panel of judges at the main conference.

The Inventor's Garage competition is open to anyone with a working prototype or product. The Inventor's Garage accepts anything from a proven concept to products that are in early commercialisation - whether a kitchen or garage inventor, a business or a seasoned innovator.

The inventions will be judged on the second day of the summit, on which the winners will be announced during the award ceremony as well as be awarded cash prizes. This will guarantee exposure, advice, mentorship and possible deal-making.

Both competitions close on 9 July. The SA Innovation Summit conference takes place from 6 to 7 September at the Cape Town Stadium.

Meanwhile, the National Research Foundation, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the University of Basel, in collaboration with various partners from both SA and Switzerland, has launched the Open Innovation Challenge to address the need for better health outcomes in low-income settlements by identifying and offering support to sustainable innovations.

Key areas that will be looked at include waste disposal, access to water, sanitation and hygiene; renewable, clean and affordable energy; and affordable building materials with a low environmental impact.

Innovations in architecture or planning to reduce unintentional injuries and improve health as well as safety in low-income housing environments are also applicable.

Successful submissions will have the chance to participate in the Swiss-South African Business Development Programme and will receive incubation support and seed funding from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

Successful submissions will also get technology validation in an ETH-Zurich test house and access to various networking and showcasing events. Applicable innovations will be showcased at the 2018 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress.

The challenge partners are TIA, the Department of Science and Technology, the Embassy of Switzerland in SA and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation.

The closing date for submissions is 31 July.

Click here for more details.

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