Well over 400 aspiring techpreneurs have submitted their original digital ideas that they believe will make Joburg a better city for the 2016 #HackJozi Challenge, and about 100 of them are undergoing the first training and mentoring leg of the challenge.
The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for start-up entrepreneurs that was launched by the City of Johannesburg and the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University for the first time last year.
The first chapter of this initiative in 2015, which is now being mirrored by the City of Cape Town, showed how entrepreneurship in the broad area of digital technology can be identified and unlocked by providing meaningful support. In turn, employment and economic opportunities in the City are created.
Ravi Naidoo, executive director: economic development for the City of Johannesburg, says 53 ideas representing teams including 109 people have been selected from the 414 entries.
“Over 40% of the entries we received seek to promote economic development in our city; some 22% are ideas around smart infrastructure; 5.5% relate to boosting our public space and tourism offerings; and 30% of the entries are in the general category of the challenge.”
The participants will now move into the playoffs which will select 20 teams, then the final 10, and ultimately the top three will be selected.
The first prize is R1-million and there are two runners-up prizes of R350 000 which will be managed by the JCSE together with a business mentor to ensure the prize money takes the winning idea beyond startup into a lucrative enterprise.
Says Naidoo: “We called on the tech-savvy people who live, work and play in the City of Joburg to submit their ideas for using technology to improve our city. The excellent response shows us that our people have great digital and technology ideas. It is important to support accelerating them into viable enterprises.
“It is extremely encouraging to see how the #HackJozi Challenge has escalated in popularity since its foundation last year. We look forward to measuring over time how many jobs and economic opportunities are created as a direct result of this intervention.”