How Homegrown Innovation is Helping to Solve some of SA’s most Urgent Challenges
SME South Africa celebrates Game changers/Disruptors this March. Follow along as we explore ideas and people that are challenging the status quo.
South African innovators are rising to the challenge of helping to solve some of the country and continent’s biggest issues. This is no more evident than the response to Cape Town’s water crisis which has seen the generation of ideas to help #DefeatDayZero – the day when the city’s taps will run dry.
“The world is facing many challenges and it’s critical that new ideas and concepts are collectively discussed to solve some of these. Water is just one subject matter. There are so many creative minds that do not always have the avenue to present solutions and so new concepts may just get lost,” says Paul Nel, chief partnership officer and CFO of Startupbootcamp (SBC) Cape Town, an accelerator that supports innovative and disruptive technology companies.
SBC prides itself in providing the platform to help ‘creative minds’ present their innovative ideas to the world, this includes through hackathons which are events that see developers, startups, scientific teams and small businesses come together to solve a specific problem.
Just recently SBC held the H20 Hackathon calling for ideas that can help with the drought in Cape Town.
The H20 event unearthed winning ideas from startups like TinyLoop, a closed-loop shower system that recycles less than 10 litres of water and TapOff, a gamification app that summarises the latest water crisis stats while also promoting the idea of per-person-per-day usage by households.
What more can be done to mine local talent? To answer this Nel shares his organisation’s efforts and why collaboration is key.
Providing a platform
We need to create an environment that brings fresh thinking to challenges. Sometimes those people that are required to resolve problems need help, but aren’t able to reach out – so they cannot necessarily source these.
Make space for innovation
Startupbootcamp is the only African accelerator that has the backing of multiple corporate partners to create a change enabling space for innovators to bring forward their solutions knowing there is direct access to large infrastructure and partnerships to scale for impact via corporate support.
It’s also important to be able to take ideas and put them into workable solutions. Ideas need to be developed. Ideation is key to change.
From local to global
Startupbootcamp in Africa decided to focus on water in general. Our goal is to grow innovators and entrepreneurs that address pressing problems on the continent, that when further refined, also become globally applicable. The fact that we are based in Cape Town and the drought is having a direct impact on our lives was just the trigger – to prove tangible how we can have impact. The idea was to generate solutions for water in general.
It is the combination of high-end tech, smart thinking, and collective partnerships that have impact
The drought crisis and shortage of water infrastructure across SA and the globe means it is crucial that we find these solutions. And this cannot be done incrementally, we require radical thinking and exponential change to meet the challenges South Africa and the continent will be facing – we need strong, innovative, entrepreneurs in partnership with corporates to make this happen.
Using tech to make an impact
Technology won’t be a solution in itself, tech is a superb enabler of business solutions. We are privileged to live in an era where technology is readily available and can be used wisely to solve problems.
By being able to leverage any form of tech, people can rally behind the opportunities. it is that combination of high-end tech, smart thinking, and collective partnerships that have impact. Startupbootcamp brings this to play in our proven global model of accelerating startups.
Delivering ideas that can disrupt
We had such a beautiful mix of ideas at the hackathon. They ranged from creating awareness amongst people of the severity of the problem right through to practical products that could radically enhance people’s understanding and usage of water.
The ideas will disrupt as we had access to thinkers that could ensure these are delivered, not just talked about.
Corporate and government support needed
Scale, impact and financing are key factors – but most importantly, these organisations believe in making a difference and bring both ideas and capabilities to bring change! Startupbootcamp in Africa is the ultimate homing ground for maverick entrepreneurs, corporates, government, media and civic roleplayers to connect for tangible change.
In 2017, the inaugural launch of Startupbootcamp in Africa, we closed off the year with a signing of 32 corporate agreements between the startup cohort and corporate partners – a first of a kind achievement for the continent!