UCT Upstarts aimed to solve real-world problems on campus

The University of Cape Town (UCT) recently completed its entrepreneurial event, UCT Upstarts. The event was focused around solving real-world problems on campus and ended on 30 September with the Idea Auction.

Having launched in February, the social innovation challenge consisted of pop-up hubs on UCT’s upper campus. UCT Upstarts featured of a range of social entrepreneurs, industry leaders, business and personal development experts, and innovation activists presenting a range of talks and experimental workshops in the bespoke coaching network.

The event is a joint initiative between Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship — part of UCT’s Graduate School of Business, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

Dr. Max Price, Vice Chancellor of UCT, says the Upstarts is what the university was looking for:

Then this idea was brought to me – I thought this is exactly the right thing for UCT. We are a research university, but research is also about figuring out how to do things differently and better – and that’s the innovation – taking ideas and seeing how they can change the world.

Read more: Mashauri’s student-focused online accelerator signs up 150 applicants

“Upstarts speaks directly to the Centre’s desire to inspire and challenge individuals, organisations and systems to question what is, reimagine what can be, and to get behind and deliver those solutions that have the potential to transform the world we live in,” adds Dr François Bonnici, Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Students at the Idea Auction, which marked the end of UCT Upstarts, pitched their ideas for “Imagine a New Africa.” The pitches included a range of ideas from rethinking food wastage to money-saving apps, and mobile and outdoor art gallery among others.

Once the students were finished pitching, an auction took place where audience members began crowdfunding and bidding to support ideas the different ideas. Over R110 00 was raised along with an additional R250 000 – R500 000 worth of coaching sessions, resources, office space, transport, and other business necessities.

Read more: CiTi to support more UCT entrepreneurs via Campus Barn Hub

Additional prizes included a trip to Israel to meet innovative companies from the country, a Cape Talk campaign valued at R125 000, R35 000 startup capital from LifeCo Unltd, a customised website from VIGO, a feature in Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company, and more.

Gina Levy who conceptualised and ran Upstarts added, “Our currency is opportunity: We insist youth isn’t wasted on the young, because we want to create a new generation of upstarts – university students who learn to merge purpose, profit and passion to create a ripple effect of change in Africa and beyond.”



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