Entries to the 2022 Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) Innovation Competition have officially opened, with a total of R3-million in seed funding up for grabs for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs to launch new businesses.
As The Innovation Hub’s flagship annual programme, the GAP Innovation competition aims to support the next generation of South African start-ups in categories such as ICT, Medical, Biosciences, the Green Economy, and the Township Economy.
Successful applicants will have the opportunity to participate in training designed to help them develop critical business skills and will also be matched with appropriate mentors to provide them with guidance on their business strategies.
At the end of this programme, a panel of judges will then select winners from each of the competition’s five categories. In addition to cash prizes and seed funding, these winners will receive incubation support at The Innovation Hub, intellectual property advice, and access to a network of industry and governmental partners.
Since its launch in 2011, the GAP competition has received over 1,400 entries and helped to launch over 100 successful start-ups. These include success stories such as Paseka Litabe’s Autumn Green, which offers an innovative system that can automatically switch off non-essential equipment and appliances when the national electricity grid is under strain.
Another is George Bennie’s Liaison Health Careware Suite, which uses online blockchain technology to simplify the process of large-scale health data analysis.
“The GAP competition aims to build a better future by supporting novel ideas and products with the potential to completely transform industries and meet the evolving needs of our society,” says Advocate Pieter Holl, CEO of The Innovation Hub.
“South Africans are brimming with many wonderful ideas, but often lack the knowledge and support needed to transform these ideas into minimum viable products, successfully pitch funders and executives, and scale their businesses. Through this competition, we look to plug into this gap, while embracing diversity and driving sustainable economic development.”
“TIA is proud to partner and be associated with the GAP programme and to see how the programme has grown in the past few years. This growth has translated to more diverse participation from innovators whose start-ups have been supported. TIA subscribes to the principle of inclusive innovation, and we hope to see more entries offering diverse bio-innovations,” says Senisha Moonsamy, Head: Innovation Skills Development Enterprise Development and GCIP at TIA.
There are five main categories for applicants seeking to enter the GAP competition, which are described as follows:
* GAP Green: Addresses some of South Africa’s most pressing environmental issues such as energy security, water management, waste and sanitation, sustainable mobility and food security. The winner of this category will be incubated at the Climate Innovation Centre South Africa (CICSA) business incubation programme.
* GAP Biosciences: Allows scientists and entrepreneurs in the biosciences space to develop and showcase technologies with a focus on agro-processing and health. This category is managed in collaboration with the Technology Innovation Agency and the Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia.
* GAP ICT: Focuses on the development of ICT-based solutions, from internet of things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence to educational mobile applications. The winners of this category will be incubated at Maxum business incubator.
* GAP Medical: Seeks to identify and develop innovations for improving health service delivery within hospitals, specifically focusing on medical technologies and hospital processes. This category is also run in collaboration with the Technology Innovation Agency and Emory University.
* Gauteng Accelerator Township Economy (GATE): Nurtures innovations which can contribute to the growth and development of township economies. This category seeks to improve government service delivery and promote the overall economy of the province and country in line with Gauteng’s Township Economy Revitalisation Strategy.
Competition hopefuls must first join The Innovation Hub’s free sub-programme, the Business Basics Workshop (BBW), to prepare for the application process. Applications can be made online via The Innovation Hub’s website, and the workshop will be held virtually for two days starting on 22 June.
The workshop will cover essential topics for successfully preparing applications, as well as more information on the GAP competition itself.
Applicants then have until 15 July 2022, to submit their online applications to the GAP competition.
The Innovation Hub will then select successful entrants for participation in the programme, and the winners will be announced in November 2022.