R1 million in innovation funding up for grabs

19 September 2012 News

The Gauteng Innovation Competition, an annual contest that seeks innovative solutions in mobile and green technologies, has pledged a total of R1 million in prize money for the top three finalists in each category. Entries for the competition are already open, and will close on 31 October 2012.

The competition is being implemented by The Innovation Hub, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (DED).

Launched in December 2011, the competition is one of the Gauteng Innovation Strategy initiatives directed at addressing efficiency of government service delivery by encouraging innovation in the mobile and green technology sectors. The competition seeks to identify and support the identification and implementation of new technologies and novel business models in local and provincial government.

The Acting GGDA CEO and HOD for DED, Mr Khulu Radebe, has stated that there is more in store for the local industry in coming months: “Later this year we will be launching the Climate Innovation Centre (CIC), a joint initiative of the World Bank’s infoDev unit and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development,” he said.

“This project is being established with a purpose to spur the growth of the green industries by supporting SMEs with innovative climate change technologies. Innovators who enter this competition will have their climate change technologies supported through the CIC.”

According to McLean Sibanda, the CEO of The Innovation Hub, “The competition will assist in providing innovative solutions that will be used to further improve service delivery by local government in Gauteng, as well as create a channel for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to be supported to commercialise their ideas.”

“The mobile entries of the 2011 competition were of a very high standard and implemented on a diverse mix of platforms. Mobile has become a prominent channel for customer engagement for both private and public organisations. This competition has created a number of opportunities for entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and are ready to establish new and potentially lucrative businesses”, said Derrick Kotze, the CEO of mLab.

This year’s competition is more focused on specific opportunities identified by municipalities and sector stakeholders in the Gauteng province. Under the mobile theme, the three main opportunity areas are community safety, citizen participation and transport management.

These opportunities align with major projects that are being pursued by local governments in the province, such as the launch of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the Metros in Gauteng. Similarly, within the green theme, this year’s focus is on four priority areas that include solar energy, energy efficiency, waste to energy and water management.

These areas form the basis of investments being pursued by a number of municipalities in Gauteng, in light of significant growth in energy demand as well as the imminent outlawing of landfills by 2020.

In the inaugural competition, more than one hundred entries were received, spanning a wide spectrum of innovations from early-stage concepts to more mature prototypes. The top three finalists in each of the two themes received a total of R500 000 in cash prizes and seed funding to commercialise their innovations and build their businesses.

In this year’s competition, first place in each of the two themes will receive R250 000, second place R150 000 and third place R100 000, comprising both a cash prize and seed funding.

Seed funding will be given in tranches tied to agreed development milestones. In addition to the cash prize and seed funding, the three winners in each category will receive free support with mentorship and commercialisation through Maxum business incubator, mLab and CIC.

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