Startups Win Gauteng Innovation Competition
The eGov Connect team with TIH officials receiving their cheque
Tuesday January 15, eGov Connect and Smokeless coal took home R 250,000 each from the Gauteng Innovation Competition held at The Innovation Hub (TIH) showing growth of interest in applications bridging information exchange between citizens with government agencies and an increasing need for green initiatives.
eGov Connnect bridges citizen-government communication, reports faults and uses social media for a unified user experience simplifying interaction with public officials while Smokeless Coal, a waste coal, clay and water combination for a smokeless energy source.
The two won the mobile technology and green technology prizes respectively.
The annual Gauteng Innovation Competition builds innovative entrepreneurial ideas to create jobs and reduce poverty. 2012′s competitions aimed at solving municipal problems and were held at and managed by SA’s The Innovation Hub.
The total prize money was R1 million but R500,000 was set to be divided equally between the two winners from the mobile and the green theme.
The top three prize winners in each of the two themes were left with the following;
1st place – R250,000: R75,000 as a cash prize, and seed funding of R175000
2nd place – R150,000: R45,000 as a cash prize, and seed funding of R105,000
3rd place – R100,000: R30,000 as a cash prize, and seed funding of R70,000
According to The Innovation Hub CEO, McLean Sibanda, the winners will be supported apart from just receiving cash money and seed funding.
Support Above Seed Funding
Sibanda said:“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.”
There were over 100 applicants on before the 14 November 2012 deadline. The judges identified innovations which could tackle issues facing municipalities. They looked the applicants business plans and why they needed an investment and cut down the numbers to the final winners.
Not just any start-up could apply.
Green & Mobile Technology
The ideas had to fall within the two themes. The Green Technology theme with four areas such waste to energy, energy efficiency, solar energy and water management while under the Mobile Technology theme looked at mobile apps that can improve citizen participation, citizen safety and transport and traffic management.
The Smokeless Coal team receiving their cheque from TIH officials
Not a Closed Door
Now this doesn’t mean guys developing enterprise solutions for accounts and HR are forever locked out of Gauteng Innovation Competitions. It is not true.
Last year, GoMetro, a mobile railway information service application now adopted by MetroRail in the Western Cape and in Gauteng, took home the Innovation Competition Prize. It just depends on the theme of the year.
Other category winners included.
Vela Tsotsi’s USSD-based crime reporting tool took the second prize in the mobile category , while Gov + Me, using mobile location information to connect citizens with government information specific to their area of residence, took third prize.
SavvyLoo won the second prize under the green category, for its low cost, clean and easy to assemble waterless toilet.
Handy Power Chargers came third in the green category with its kinetic chargers for laptops, desktops, cell phones, lamps and radios where there is no grid electricity supply.
-By Sam Wakoba