Municipal issues in the limelight

Gauteng innovators awarded

The Mobile Category winners receive their award: András Findt (eGov Connect), Nkosiphendule Kolisile (Gauteng MEC for Economic Development), Joshua Leibstein (eGov Connect), Dr Thele Moima (GGDA Board Member) and Zeth Malele (TIHMC chairperson of the Board).
Gauteng Innovation Competition

A number of companies were rewarded in Gauteng this week for innovative entrepreneurship that is critical to municipalities.

The Gauteng Innovation Competition is an annual contest that seeks to foster innovative entrepreneurial ideas to spur growth in the Gauteng economy while contributing to job creation and the reduction of poverty. This year, the competition focused on issues that are critical to municipalities.

The competition is run by The Innovation Hub, Africa’s first accredited science and technology park. It is one of the initiatives of the Gauteng Innovation Strategy approved by the provincial cabinet in February 2012.

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

eGov Connect  was named as the winner of the mobile category of the Gauteng Innovation Competition, at a prestigeous event on Tuesday at The Innovation Hub. eGov Connect pulls communication between citizens and government, as well as fault reporting and social media, into a unified user experience to enable easy interaction with public officials.

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.

Vela Tsotsi was named as second prize winner in the mobile category for its USSD-based crime-reporting tool, while Gov + Me took third prize for its use of mobile location information to connect citizens with government information specific to their area of residence.

In the green category, SavvyLoo won the second prize for its low-cost, waterless toilet that is easy to assemble and clean, presenting a sustainable alternative to prevent water pollution from waterborne sanitation and pit latrines.

Handy Power Chargers was named as third prize winner in this category for its kinetic chargers used on laptops, desktops, cell phones, lamps and radios where there is no grid electricity supply.

Over 100 submissions were received by the time entries for the competition closed on 14 November 2012. This was followed by an intensive adjudication process to identify the top 10 submissions in each category. The stringent competition called for innovations that 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.

There were specific focus areas within the two themes. The Green Technology theme prioritised entries related to four main areas including Solar Energy, Waste to Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Water Management. The Mobile Technology theme prioritised mobile applications that can improve Citizen Safety, Citizen Participation, and Transport and Traffic Management.

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Nkosiphendule Kolisile said: “The Gauteng Innovation Competition is an important mechanism for building a culture of innovation within 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 toward a prosperous and inclusive society”.

Acting GGDA chief executive Siphiwe Ngwenya commended the finalists for reaching this stage of the competition. “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 Gauteng Innovation Competition has once again 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 first Gauteng Innovation 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, which was a prize winner in last year’s Innovation Competition, has been adopted by Metrorail in the Western Cape and in Gauteng.

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