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The Green City Startup competition in Johannesburg, South Africa has awarded an entrepreneur behind an innovative toilet leak reduction device R1-million. The winner is among a total of eight finalists who were recognised for their efforts to benefit Johannesburg’s green initiative and culture.
The competition’s entrants address the City of Johannesburg’s Integrated Development plan, which includes water recycling, energy diversification, green re-fleeting, and public transport for job creation and income generation.
Mathang stated how City of Johannesburg’s plan for a greener city and economy:
The development of a green economy is one of the City of Johannesburg’s core strategic objectives. This is aligned with the National Development Plan, which calls for mutual benefits between sustainable development and low carbon, increasing employment and reducing inequality. It is also aligned with the provincial strategy, which states ‘we will make the transition towards clean, innovative, resource efficient, low carbon technologies and infrastructure’.
The first place prize of R1-million was awarded to Paseka Lesolang and his development of Leak-Less Valve. The product aims at reducing water loss by up to 70% in toilets, which could accumulate to a 10% saving on the user’s water bill.
“My grandmother in Ga-Rankuwa, a township north west of Tshwane, used to have such a leaking toilet. Instead of complaining about it, I decided to find a solution which lead to the invention of the WHC Leak-Less Valve,” said Lesolang.
Founder and CEO of PowerOptimal, Sean Moolman, was awarded the second place prize of R500 000. PowerOptimal helps to reduce peak electricity demand by 30% to 50%, which little impact on activities.
Gabriel Ally and Yolandi Schoeman were each awarded R300 000 for their prototypes. Ally’s e-Trike is a pedal-powered and electrically-assisted cargo tricycle. It can transport 120kg of waste over a range of 40km. Schoeman’s sanitation project AqueouSphere Floating Treatment Wetland Islands (FTWI) is used to filter nitrates, phosphates, organic compounds, heavy metals, and other runoff contaminants in water.
The event took place of the course of nine months. The eight finalists were chosen out of 86 possible candidates who submitted proposals. Each of the eight received R250 000 to create and build a prototype of their idea and were further offered in-depth technical support in order to improve, fine-tune, present, and pitch their ideas. The final prototypes were presented to a panel of judges, which included an independent team of entrepreneurs and technical experts earlier in September.
According to Ravi Naidoo, executive director of economic development, the competition was looking for “ideas that were immediately scalable and entries were open to start-ups, SMEs and partnerships in the areas of energy, waste, water, transport or buildings.”
He added that the competition will take place again in 2016 due to this year’s successful event.
Naidoo says the organisers want to expand the programme by inviting the private sector. The city provided the seed funding and has already created partnerships with the judges and technical partners.