Here are 11 challenges and competitions SA entrepreneurs can enter in 2018

Seedstars World Summit (Supplied)
Seedstars World Summit (Supplied)

Wanna kick start your new year? Why not enter an innovation challenge or competition? Besides being a chance to gain media exposure, it’s also a great way to raise funding for your startup.

In addition, startups also stand to benefit from incubation and even corporate partnerships with the respective challenge sponsors. With an increasing number of innovation challenges and competitions popping up, here are  a few you can look to applying to this year.

Seedstars World: With up to $1-million in equity investment up for grabs, this Swiss global startup competition for emerging markets is definitely one you want to apply to.

Chivas Ventures: Currently in its fourth year, the Chivas Ventures global pitching competition is aimed at social entrepreneurs. With up $1-million in prize funding up for grabs, it’s worth taking a shot at. Last year of the 30 participating countries, South Africa drew the highest number of applications with over 600 applications submitted. Expect a call for applications around September.

Innovation Prize for Africa: The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) is among one of the most lucrative innovation challenges on the continent.

The grand prize for this year’s competition is $100 000, while the second runner up will get $25 000. Another prize of $25 000 will be awarded to the winner of the social impact innovation category, in addition seven other finalists will each receive vouchers worth $5 000.

IPA focuses on five focus areas, namely manufacturing and service industry, agriculture and agribusiness, health and well being, information communication technologies, and environment, energy and water.

By entering these challenges and competitions, SA startups stand to benefit from prize funding, media exposure and even opportunities to partner with corporates

Hague Institute for Innovation of Justice Challenge: The Hague Insitute for the Innovation of Law (HiiL’s) holds an annual Innovation for Justice Challenge through which it selects and supports the best justice entrepreneurs to join its Justice Accelerator. An annual call for innovations is held between March and June.

AppsAfrica Innovation Awards: Set up in 2014 to celebrate the best in mobile and tech on the continent, The AppsAfrica innovation awards bring together the media, investors and innovators from across the continent. Last year’s winners will get the opportunity to exhibit at next month’s African Tech Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

FNB Business Innovation Awards: The FNB Business Innovation Awards has run annually since 2015. Previous winners include GreatSoft, Wigroup and BrandsEye. Prizes for the 2018 programme include an all-expenses paid trip to the Endeavor International Selection Panel in Buenos Aires, Argentina between 5 and 7 September. Keep an eye out for the 2019 call for entries.

Demo Africa 2018: The programme aims to link tech startups with investors and technology buyers. Over the years, it has become a platform where African startups can launch their products to the world. Since its inception five years ago, 180 startups have gone on to raise over R700-million through the programme.

This year’s conference which will be held in Casablanca, Morocco on 27 September. Keen on taking part? Then apply to launch at the conference here

The MTN Business App of the Year Awards: This app development competition aims to celebrate local apps that are driving disruption. Entries are usually open in about July.

Innovation Summit Inventor’s Garage and Pitching Den competitionStartups can apply for the 2018 edition of the Inventor’s Garage and Pitching Den competitions from 1 February, with the last date for online submissions being 1 June.

The Pitching Den is aimed at companies with innovative tech-enabled solutions with potential to make a significant impact on the continent. The Inventor’s Garage on the other hand is aimed at innovators with working prototypes.

A panel of judges will select between 20 to 25 finalists who will get the opportunity to pitch their businesses at the 2018 South African Innovation Summit set to take place in September.

Airbus BizLab AEROmobility pitching competition: Last year global aerospace accelerator Airbus BizLab held its first pitching competition for East and Southern African startups.

The competition culminated in Cargonaught and Illuminum Greenhouses each winning all expenses paid trips to France and Germany to meet with experts from Airbus and an additional three months of technical support.

In an interview Airbus Bizlab head Bruno Gutierres hinted at the accelerator returning to Africa, so expect a call for applications some time this year.

Read more: Potential in African tech ecosystem, we will be back – Airbus BizLab head

Extreme Tech Challenge: This tech innovation challenge claims to be the largest startup competition in the world. The Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) is headed by billionaire Richard Branson and the Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapio.

Selected startups get the opportunity to attend and showcase their products at the Consumer Electric Show which takes place in January every year. In addition, the final three finalists are invited to Branson’s Necker Island where they get to pitch for a share of prizes.

Previous South African participants of the challenge include virtual reality startups Awaken VR, real-time swimming coaching solution Stroketech and blockchain powered collaborative solar finance company The Sun Exchange.

Featured image: Seedstars World Summit (Supplied)

Daniel Mpala


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