The top three most innovative digital ideas in the 2016 #HackJozi Challenge were announced in Johannesburg on Thursday 19 May, marking the end of an intensive six-week boot camp for aspiring tech entrepreneurs.
The #HackJozi Challenge is a project of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and the City of Johannesburg, designed to accelerate early stage ICT start-ups. Three winners were chosen from a shortlist of ten finalists that best utilised technology solutions to meet and solve every day challenges.
Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE says the conclusion of the challenge isn’t the end of the journey for the winners and finalists. “The JCSE will work with each of the ten businesses, and the wonderful entrepreneurs behind them, for the next year with the support from the City of Johannesburg to help drive their future success,” he notes.
The top ten will enjoy a one-year free membership at the well-known ICT Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein, a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Dwolatzky. “#HackJozi gives the JCSE a great opportunity to work with local government to help launch ten new ideas into the world,” explains Dwolatzky. “Through the finalists’ success, we feed the digital economy with new business start-ups, where each new start-up means new jobs. #HackJozi is so important because it creates jobs, economic activity and the opportunity to build a tech ecosystem based on meaningful partnerships,” he adds.
This year’s winner TechnoVera, which uses smart lockers to reduce the average waiting time for patients collecting chronic medication at primary healthcare collection facilities, will receive R1 million in funding. While second runner up Tuta-Me, a mobile app that connects tutors with students for tutoring services, and third runner up eSubmit, an online platform for submitting building plan applications to municipalities, will each receive R350,000.
In addition to building capacity and skills within the sector, Dwolatzky says each of the finalists contributed to finding solutions for some of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, particularly within education and health. “The winners and finalists also addressed a third challenge in that they each contributed to developing entrepreneurship. What South Africa needs is for more people to believe they can create their own future, and #HackJozi helped foster that spirit in participants.”
Now in its second successful year, Dwolatzky is confident #HackJozi will continue to grow from strength to strength. “Year on year we’ve seen a step change and even more great businesses come through. I’m so optimistic that next year we’ll see a similar change, and that is a mark of great progress. #HackJozi is about making innovation happen and we’re doing something better every year,” he concludes.