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Students seize the opportunity to solve real-life problems in City of Tshwane

Eight teams of Unisa students are gearing up to compete in the first-ever Tshwane Inter-University Innovation Challenge on Tuesday, 24 November, where they will pitch their proposals for solving some of the City of Tshwane’s most urgent service delivery problems.

“This is very exciting for Unisa, which has been strongly driving student innovation and entrepreneurship. It is an invaluable opportunity for our students to showcase tangible service delivery solutions and potentially see them being implemented in their own backyard,” says Basanda Pongoma, Technology Transfer Support Officer at the Directorate Innovation, Technology Transfer and Commercialisation (DITTC).

Adding to the significance of the Tshwane Inter-University Innovation Challenge, which involves students from three universities, namely Unisa, the University of Pretoria and the Tshwane University of Technology, is that Unisa was one of the key founders of the competition.

“It is the fruition of a long-cherished dream of DITTC Director Mr Ayanda Noma to enable a multi-stakeholder partnership of this kind in the City of Tshwane,” says Basanda.

City’s innovation leaders show their support

In addition to the City of Tshwane and the three universities, the partners who are teaming up to host the inaugural competition on 24 November are the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE), Tuksnovation, Eskom, the French Embassy, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), The Innovation Hub and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

“The goal of the competition is to develop highly competent and confident student entrepreneurs who will conceptualise and implement innovative solutions directed at solving service delivery challenges affecting local communities,” Basanda says.

A total of 24 student teams, comprising eight from Unisa, 10 from the University of Pretoria and six from the Tshwane University of Technology, will be pitching their solutions in four service delivery categories: Revenue Collection, Electricity & Energy, Transportation and Waste Management.

The 24 entries were shortlisted after a rigorous selection process, which started with an invitation to students at all three universities to submit applications.

Each of the three universities arranged a pitching session for the applicants, the most promising of whom then took part in an inter-university “Bootcamp”, where they were trained in intellectual property, finance and business planning and development.

Ready for their final pitch

The teams then refined their business plans for their solutions, which face their next crucial test at the final pitching session on 24 November. They will present their plans to an independent panel of adjudicators from industry, who will then select a winner, runner-up and second runner-up for each of the four categories.

“The winners will receive prize money to develop their solutions, along with incubation support, mentorship support and an opportunity to pilot their solutions for the City of Tshwane,” Basanda says.

The prize-giving ceremony will take place on Friday, 27 November.

Basanda notes that four of the eight Unisa projects are led by female innovators, which is heartening given that the area of innovation has been historically dominated by males.

Here are the eight Unisa teams who will be taking part in the final pitching session:

  • Ms Khanyisile Thonga (waste management)
  • Ms Xabiso Lombo (transportation solution)
  • Mr James Tinarwo (energy solution)
  • Mr Kgalabe Mongatane (health solution)
  • Ms Pertunia Ndou and two team members (waste management)
  • Mr Johhanes Setekge (transportation)
  • Mr Mandilumane Manjez (transportation)
  • Ms Immaculate Matloga (transportation)
Best of luck to all the students taking part in the inaugural Tshwane Inter-University Innovation Challenge. Unisa is proud of you.

*Submitted by the Department of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Publish date: 2020/11/23