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Gauteng salutes innovative entrepreneurs

Written by Samona Murugan
Entrepreneurs with ideas that would benefit municipalities were rewarded for their unique projects during the recent Gauteng Innovation Competition.

The annual contest, run by The Innovation Hub, aims to encourage innovative entrepreneurial ideas, spur growth in the Gauteng economy, while also contributing to job creation and reducing poverty.

The Innovation Hub implements initiatives that advance the economic development and growth of the province through innovation. It is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

This year the competition focused on issues that are critical to municipalities.

eGov Connect was named as the winner in the mobile category. The application provides a platform for government to connect with citizens, bringing together communication, fault reporting and social media into a unified user experience.

Vela Tsotsi was the runner-up in this category for its crime reporting tool, while Gov + Me took third place for its use of mobile location information to connect citizens with government information specific to their area of residence.

Smokeless Coal won the green category for its combination of waste coal, clay and water to produce a smokeless energy source that burns for longer than conventional coals. SavvyLoo was a runner-up for its low cost, waterless toilet, which is easy-to-assemble and clean, presenting a sustainable alternative to prevent water pollution from waterborne sanitation and pit latrines.

Handy Power Chargers won the third prize in this category for its kinetic chargers, which can be used on laptops, desktops, cellphones, lamps, and radios where there is no grid electricity supply.

The winners will share the R1 million prize - R500 000 for each category.

Each of them will receive a portion of their prize money as a cash award and the balance in seed funding to develop their concept.

The competition received more than 100 entries. An intensive judging process followed, which identified the top 10 submissions in each category.

The competition called for innovations that would address specific focus areas identified by sector and municipality representatives and required innovators to complete a draft business plan indicating their expected market and likely investment requirements.

“The competition is an important mechanism for building a culture of innovation in the province. This is critical for new enterprise development and creating new opportunities for decent employment creation.

“The finalists for this year’s competition represent a new generation of entrepreneurs who will lead the economic transformation of our province and country towards a prosperous and inclusive society,” said Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Nkosiphendule Kolisile.

Acting GGDA CEO Siphiwe Ngwenya commended the finalists on their achievements. “The finalists in each category have responded to specific challenges that affect our society and we expect that these innovations will have a significant impact on service delivery, economic growth and job creation in the future. We congratulate the winners and The Innovation Hub on their success and look forward to seeing these innovations come to market,” he said.

According to The Innovation Hub CEO McLean Sibanda the competition attracted a mix of concepts from individuals and small enterprises across the province.

“The winners will receive significant support to commercialise their innovations, not only in the form of prize money but also through mentorship, intellectual property advice, and linkages to additional funding sources,” he said.

Previous winners of the competition have made significant progress in the development of their innovations and in accessing potential market partners.

A mobile railway information service application developed by Mobility called GoMetro came up tops at year’s competition and has since been adopted by MetroRail in the Western Cape and Gauteng.