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open-innovation-challenge

Swiss-SA innovation challenge records 110 submissions from SA applicants

A Swiss-South African open social innovation challenge aiming to address health issues facing low-income South African urban settlements has received more than 120 proposals, with 110 of them coming from South Africa.

The submissions are currently being evaluated and the 10 finalists will be announced at the Innovation Summit next month. Five Swiss applicants will be invited to join the 10 finalists at the summit and for other activities.

Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS) media liaison Susan Botha told Ventureburn today that some of the South African proposals submitted included innovations in construction, alternative energy, water and sanitary hygiene.

25% of the proposals submitted to the innovation challenge came from women

Botha said 40% of the proposals had come from black applicants and at least 25% from women innovators.

RIIS, an SA research institute, is running the challenge together with the Swiss embassy with the University of Basel and ETH-Zurich university and South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology, the Technology Innovation Agency and National Research Foundation. Calls for submission were opened on 30 June and closed on 31 July.

Those selected will participate in the Swiss-South African Business Development Programme and will also get an opportunity to exhibit at the Innovation Summit as well as at the 2018 Swiss South-Africa Environmental Health Congress. Additionally, finalists stand a chance of receiving incubation support and seed funding from TIA.

Finalists will also gain access to testing facilities at an ETH-Zurich research hub in Cape Town.

Read more: 12 days left to submit proposals for the Open Innovation Challenge

Botha said a 2014 Khayalami Empower shack (pictured) pilot programme by ETH-Zurich and the Urban Think Tank in Khayelitsha had sparked the idea behind the challenge.

“That pilot programme highlighted a need facing South African society and the Swiss embassy wants to build on that idea,” said Botha.

“The overwhelming response (to the challenge) speaks to the fact that there are many organisations and entrepreneurs actively trying to effect change and projects such as this one create a platform for real social impact by identifying solutions and providing various levels of support through partner collaboration,” Clen Cook, RIIS managing partner said in an earlier press release.

Featured image: Supplied