Over the last four months, the LaunchLab, a network of university campus-based business incubators, in partnership with Stellenbosch University (SU), Innovus, the Stellenbosch Innovation District (SID) and Sustnet, ran an entrepreneurial challenge across the Western Cape to look for ideas, innovations and potential solutions that may positively impact or improve the water and waste issues in the Western Cape and South Africa.
“South Africa is currently facing a multi-faceted water crisis, which, if not addressed effectively, has the potential to significantly limit the economic growth potential of the country.” – SA Integrated Water Quality Management Plan. Currently the Western Cape Government is busy with a review of its ‘Sustainable Water Management Plan’. The government’s role in water management is an imperative, however, achieving more sustainable outcomes requires full participation by universities and researchers, the private sector and citizens.
The Water & Waste Management Challenge, which represents an opportunity to get involved in the solution, falls under LaunchLab’s Ideas Programme, which is the entry point into LaunchLab’s Lift-Off incubation programme.
The Challenge officially kicked off with a briefing workshop which was held on 23rd of March 2017 at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab. During the workshop representatives from SU, SID, Sustnet, and others gave an overview of their partnership as well as providing context for the Water & Waste Management Challenge by explaining current challenges and opportunities for new or existing business solutions that may create the next breakthrough innovation within the following areas:
- Water and waste management solutions that improve the quality of our water sources
- Water filtration and treatment solutions
- Water saving solutions
- Water and waste recycling solutions
- Water and waste management solutions for at work and at home
More than 60 aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from various industries attended the workshop which assisted entrepreneurs in stimulating their thinking and providing clarity about the value of their business idea.
The LaunchLab received many sign-ups and pitch submissions, which were narrowed down to the best 11 finalists. The finalists pitched their innovative ideas during the final event held at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab on 17 May 2017. The judging panel consisted of six judges selected from the Stellenbosch Municipality, Israeli High Commission, Enkanini Research Center, Aurecon and Stellenbosch University.
The Water & Waste Management Innovation Challenge winners, who will participate in the LaunchLab Lift-Off Programme, are as follows:
- Jacobus Els – Revolute; A soil moisture monitoring system designed for commercial farms and research usage.
- Peter Turner – GreenChain Technology; An automated grey water system integrated with a rain water solution.
- Jurie Erwee – BridgIoT; A smart geyser control system on an IoT platform.
- Bettina Botha – Eva Solutions; Plastic balls designed from recyclable materials, aimed at reducing the evaporation of dam water by 90%.
These 4 winners each wins seed funding and incubation support from the LaunchLab with help from Sustnet for the next 6 months to be used to launch and grow their business ideas. SID will be carefully monitoring the development of these business ideas during this time to gauge their potential to positively impact or improve the water and waste issues in the Western Cape and South Africa.
“This challenge as proposed by Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen, the outgoing COO of Stellenbosch University, and supported by the Stellenbosch Innovation District, LaunchLab and Sustnet is exciting, not only because of the opportunity to find solutions to our current water crisis, but also as an example of how a community represented by the Stellenbosch Innovation District can come together to solve a grand challenge. We look forward to being involved in more ecosystem partnerships like this in the future.” says Philip Marais, CEO of LaunchLab and Chairman of the Stellenbosch Innovation District.