The three category winners and an overall winner have been announced in the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge.
Nine finalists presented their innovative ideas at a final selection event in the MBSA East London plant – the culmination of a unique partnership between MBSA, the LaunchLab and Startup Autobahn that kicked off at the end of August this year.
The two winners in the manufacturing category were DataProphet, a group of machine learning specialists which provides artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) development through corporate partnerships with the aim of delivering bleeding-edge machine solutions, and Vizbility Insight, an artificial Intelligence company specialising in globally scaleable predictive and prescriptive risk management software.
The winner in the sales and marketing category was NumberBoost, a startup that builds AI/ML applications.
These category winners each receive R300 000 to pilot their idea for future use within MBSA. The overall winner, announced as DataProphet, will also travel to Europe next year to pitch the innovative idea in front of hundreds of automotive decision makers at a big Startup Autobahn event in Germany.
“I am highly impressed with the innovative solutions that were displayed at the MBSA Innovation Challenge. South Africa has some serious talent. The presentations were absolutely awesome and provided real solutions to the tasks that we face as a company. I congratulate all start-ups that presented at this event,” says Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board Mercedes-Benz cars, manufacturing and supply chain for Daimler AG, MBSA’s parent company.
The Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge targeted two streams. It asked interested students and professionals (as a first stream) and existing startups (as a second stream) to pitch their innovative ideas to revolutionise the automotive manufacturing and marketing and sales environment.
“From an MBSA perspective, this challenge is crucial in that it will assist us in increasing agility while developing internal capability that changes organisational culture and the way we work. Most importantly, these innovative ideas will allow us to respond to changes and adapt to new market challenges quicker. In this process, we can increase our productivity,” says Andreas Engling, MBSA CEO and executive director: manufacturing.
MBSA will extend the opportunity for the student stream into 2018, to determine who will get the opportunity to be enrolled by the LaunchLab in its Lift-Off Programme for an initial three-month period. The Lift-Off Programme will be facilitated from the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab, in Stellenbosch.