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SA innovators make a global impact

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SingularityU South Africa has named Nick Walker, an innovation scientist at Next Biosciences, as the winner of the first Global Impact Competition (GIC) in South Africa for his work on creating a stem cell bank for curing HIV/AIDS.
Rand Merchant Bank was the primary sponsor of the South African GIC, launched in February 2016. Walker will attend Singularity University’s 10-week Global Solutions Program (GSP) in Silicon Valley later this year. On returning to South Africa after the GSP, he will have the opportunity to develop his project, supported by the SingularityU global alumni network.
The SingularityU South Africa GIC was open to applicants throughout South Africa, with a focus on the global challenges of learning, energy, environment, food, health, prosperity, security, water, space, disaster resilience and governance.
Other finalists in the top five will have access to the Business Accelerator programme offered by First National Bank, which will provide business support and individual guidance for three months.
The individuals and their projects are, in no specific order:
* Bernelle Verster – Smart Wetlands;
* Neo Hutiri – Technovera;
* Pieter Botes – I’m not Plastic; and
* Wolfgang von Loeper – MySmartFarm.
The winners were selected from 48 entries and judged by: former FirstRand chief executive and entrepreneur Paul Harris; RMB chief executive James Formby; Investec equity partner Anisha Gordhan; medical doctor and Infinitum Humanitarian Systems chief executive Eric Rasmussen; RMB Holdings and Rand Merchant Investment Holdings chief executive Herman Bosman; SingularityU GIC manager Regina Njima; and WEDI International executive chair Sharron McPherson.
“The winners of the SingularityU South Africa competition all have two common attributes, both of which are major components of RMB’s culture: innovative thinking and entrepreneurship,” says RMB chief executive James Formby. “One of the reasons we chose to sponsor the competition was to encourage new ideas and technologies which, ultimately, could help to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. There is great need for smart thinking in South Africa and this is a great platform to expose it while also enabling people to develop and deliver these worthy initiatives.”
“Our sponsors do not just enable one person to participate in the GSP programme,” says SU vice-president for Global Impact Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, “but rather catalyse entire communities of entrepreneurs and assemble tremendous talent that can address solutions through regional needs to create both impact and social benefits.”
Singularity University (SU) is a benefit corporation whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s greatest challenges.  “We created the GICs worldwide to create a Silicon Valley-like culture and reality in every country around the world,” says SU co-founder Ray Kurzweil.  “Silicon Valley has become a metaphor for the ability of individuals and small groups to transform major industries and ideas to make the world a better place.”