The Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative (CiTi) has launched the first EdTech Open Innovation Cluster and incubator in Africa. The event was held on 15 March at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock, Cape Town, and saw a turnout of close to 500 people.
The aim of the cluster is to collect as many of the best edtech startups and companies in one location to work on education problems.
The initiative is helmed by Jamie Martin, who previously held positions at Deloitte and The Boston Consulting Group. Martin said there is also a team from Yale, researching and supporting the cluster.
Part of the EdTech Open Innovation Cluster is to launch an incubator for any participant in the sector. The programme will take place over nine months and participants will have access to a range of individuals and receive funding.
The requirements for application are broad, from early to adult learning ideas, which are cheaper, faster, and more easily available to learners.
At the moment, the programme is looking for R2-million in funding to get it off of the ground and will start as soon as investors have been found.
The CEO of Sea Monster, Glenn Gillis, spoke about the startup’s role in education and with 2D animation and games.
“[…]I really want to be part a new narrative. I want to be part of a new story as South Africans,” said Gillis.
“If we can’t craft that new narrative for people through education then how are we going to change the world?”
Two of the products Gillis showed off were an interactive financial education platform built for Old Mutual called Moneyversity, and Super Animal, an AR game licenced to Pick n Pay locally. Both products have been well received in the education space.
The manager at Global Teachers Institute, Nigel Richard, spoke about their involvement with edtech startup Paper Video. The company focuses on providing learners in rural areas with the tools needed to study, such as scannable QR codes on exam papers which lead to informational videos on questions.
An example of this is the Paper Video hub, which is a media server that allows learners to utilise over 700 hours worth of video tutorials without access to the internet. According to the company, it trialled the device at a school in Limpopo, which saw the maths and science marks of learners almost double over the period.
“For us, the mantra is not doing things better, but doing things differently,” says Richard.
Richard says one of the challenges faced in SA is that there aren’t enough universities to develop teachers. Unisa has the highest amount of teachers, with around 40 000 people studying the profession.
“If you’re gonna do scale in South Africa, you’re gonna have to work with the government.”