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Mercedes-Benz South Africa And The LaunchLab Partner With STARTUP AUTOBAHN To Launch Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge

Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), the LaunchLab and STARTUP AUTOBAHN have joined in partnership to offer a unique opportunity to students or professionals, as well as existing start-ups in South Africa.

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Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), the LaunchLab and STARTUP AUTOBAHN have joined in partnership to offer a unique opportunity to students or professionals, as well as existing startups in South Africa.

The Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge will target two streams. It will ask interested students and professionals (as a first stream) and existing startups (as a second stream) to pitch their innovative ideas around a set of challenges, tailor-made to advanced manufacturing and benchmark sales and marketing topics, as identified by Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

The challenge spans various topics – ranging from big data and machine learning for manufacturing, the digitisation of logistics and production, app-based solutions for the evaluation of the condition of pre-owned vehicles, chatbot solutions for manufacturing learning and many more.

The three partners are well-matched to create this unique opportunity for South African innovation talent.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa has a proud history and heritage in South Africa spanning more than six decades. Being part of the global Daimler network, a company with a track record in innovation and pioneering spirit of over a century, offers the successful participants access to expert input and guidance without parallel.

Related: DTI Funding

The LaunchLab, a cutting edge mixed-use business incubator based at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape and currently building a network of university campus-based incubators in Africa to help develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem that accelerates entrepreneurs to a new level, will facilitate the challenge – running from end of August to November 2017.

The third partner, STARTUP AUTOBAHN, is a global innovation platform, co-founded by Daimler, with locations in Germany, Singapore and China, that connects startups with corporates in the mobility and production industry.

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At the end of the process successful participants from the first stream, students and professionals, stand the chance to win incubation support for their innovative ideas. The successful participants from the second stream, the existing startup companies, stand a chance to get their share of R600 000 for supplier development, international exposure and the possibility to become a supplier for Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s global parent company, Daimler.

All interested parties can register for an information seminar, to be hosted on the 31st of August 2017 at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab premises in Stellenbosch.

The link to the information seminar will also be available on http://mb4.me/MBSAInnovationChallenge.

Immediately after the information seminar the submission phase will open, where participants can submit a video online or pitch in front of a camera at various participating campuses until the end of September. A shortlist of candidates/teams in both streams will then be notified and enter the second phase of the process where the ideas will be polished and benefit from access to Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Daimler AG and STARTUP AUTOBAHN expert role-players.

In November the shortlisted groups will then have the opportunity to present their ideas to Mercedes-Benz South Africa decision makers.

“MBSA has partnered with the LaunchLab as part of our continuing efforts to contribute to the economic growth and sustainability of the country as a whole and to youth development.  The areas that the challenge is focusing on are key to our continued growth and success as we operate in a highly competitive space,” says Andreas Engling, CEO and Executive Director Manufacturing, Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

“The LaunchLab is very excited to have joined hands with Mercedes-Benz South Africa and STARTUP AUTOBAHN on the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge. This is another example of a well-known multinational seeing the value of engaging with the startup ecosystem and we are very pleased to be able to facilitate the interaction between these two groups to leverage the strengths of both, for mutual benefit. This is an awesome opportunity for our local entrepreneurs,” says Philip Marais, CEO of the LaunchLab.

“We are excited to get in touch with promising tech startups from the region. With the platform STARTUP AUTOBAHN, we can support them and further shape the future of mobility and production,” says Anke Kleinschmit’s, Vice-President Group Research & Sustainability, Daimler AG.

Throughout the challenge, progress and news will be shared online and on social media platforms, utilising the hashtag #MBSAInnovationChallenge.

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UCT GSB Joins Prestigious Global List Of Business Schools

The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) and 14 other business schools from around the world have been re-accredited by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) with the EQUIS stamp of approval.

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The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has kicked off 2019 on a high note with a seal of international approval from Europe’s pre-eminent business school quality and impact assessment body.

The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) re-awarded its European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) to the UCT GSB recognising that the school has shown continuous quality improvement in line with international standards regarding governance, programmes, students, faculty, and research as well as internalisation, ethics, responsibility and sustainability.

“The UCT GSB is honoured to share the EQUIS accreditation with world-class business schools from around the world,” says UCT GSB Business Acting Director Kosheek Sewchurran. “It shows that our commitment to internationalisation as well our efforts to keep the business school at the cutting edge of management education in Africa is really paying off.”

The UCT GSB was the first business school in South Africa to achieve EQUIS accreditation back in 2001 and has successfully maintained this over 17 years.

“The accreditation aims to enhance standards in business education and promote excellence in management development and schools need to reapply for accreditation every three to five years, so it is an exercise in continuous self-assessment and improvement,” says Associate Professor Sewchurran.

“The process of business school accreditation is rigorous and time consuming,” agrees Dr Kutlwano Ramaboa, Director of International Relations at the UCT GSB.

“Schools must articulate their vision and mission, relevance and impact and be able to demonstrate that they are delivering what they claim to be delivering. This process can be useful because it helps us identify and improve on weaknesses identified,” she says.

Related: How Matthew Piper And Karidas Tshintsholo Launched Their First Business From Their UCT Dorm Rooms

The UCT GSB is one of 14 schools to be re-accredited and joins just 180 business schools across 44 countries who have the EQUIS stamp of approval. The school has been setting the pace for business education in Africa for more than five decades and is one of only three business schools in Africa to have triple-crown accreditation, which means that in addition to EQUIS, it is also accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and The Association of MBAs (AMBA).

“What sets the EQUIS accreditation apart, is a specific requirement regarding internationalisation, corporate connections and ethics. In these areas specifically, the UCT GSB performs strongly,” says Associate Professor Sewchurran.

For example, in 2018 UCT was ranked the top university in Africa by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The UCT GSB also regularly hosts top global events. It was the first business school in Africa to host the MBA World Summit in 2018 and in November partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to bring the Young Global Leaders (YGL) conference to Cape Town for the first time.

“International mobility in today’s global business world is a key requirement and accreditations such as EQUIS help us to demonstrate international relevance, allowing us to attract international students and faculty. Perhaps more importantly, it also offers our students a chance to experience international contexts,” says Dr Ramaboa.

“The other key benefit is that because EQUIS assesses performance in a holistic way – looking broadly at the kind of impact a school is having on the world around it – it helps us to hone our offerings to develop the right calibre of leadership and management to drive the inclusive development that is needed on the continent.”

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Tips To Help SMEs Prepare For The New Year

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business unpacks key steps that entrepreneurs should consider to ensure a successful 2019.

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January is always a good time for SMEs to reflect on achievements and challenges for the past 12 months, while preparing for the year ahead.

  • Review 2018 goals – business owners should review their short-term goals regularly in order measure progress and learn from their past mistakes.

Furthermore, short-term goals also help a business to determine if it is still on track to meet its long-term objectives.

  • Get your finances in order – given the tough economic conditions, it is essential for businesses to ensure that their finances are always in order. Having a positive cashflow at the beginning of the year will help SMEs weather any unforeseen events that may potentially disrupt an unprepared business.

Weinberg says, cash flow management challenges are also a good indicator of deeper or hidden issues within the business that need to be addressed immediately.

  • Stay ahead of competition – actively monitor the activities of your closest competitors and how the market responds to their goods or services. This will help you identify any shortcomings in your business, allowing you adequate time to address them.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

For example, if you are still offering products and services in store while your competitors have successfully migrated to digital channels, it may be ideal to consider a multi-channel approach to remain relevant.

This also provides a perfect opportunity to disrupt or innovate by identifying niches within your market or industry that no competitor has tapped into yet.

  • Meet customer needs – the most practical way to measure customer satisfaction is to communicate directly with the recipients of your goods or services.

Online reviews and social media are good platforms for getting feedback.

Weinberg says to remain relevant, sustain the current base and win new customers – SMEs should be agile and constantly reinvent their business models in order to meet evolving customer needs.

  • Celebrate success – business owners often mistakenly focus on challenges and negatives when reviewing their performance and goals.

“It is equally important to acknowledge and celebrate the business successes for both yourself and staff. Not only does it boost morale, but reassures you that you are doing something right and it also motivates everyone. Moreover, the successes can be replicated and improved to steer the business for further growth,” says Weinberg.

“Lastly, once you’ve reviewed performance for the past year, it is essential to set new goals for the year ahead. This should involve reviewing or updating your original Business Plan to ensure that it is still relevant,” he concludes.

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Africa’s Top 10 Tech Start-Ups Selected For #Africa4Future Accelerator Programme

Airbus and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have announced the top 10 African tech start-ups that will take part in the latest Airbus Bizlab #Africa4Future accelerator programme. They were selected after an open public pitch event in front of experts, potential investors, the media and other stakeholders in Kenya’s capital city.

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#Africa4Future is a joint business accelerator initiative of Airbus and GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa initiative together with the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a non-profit seed fund and pan-African organisation that brings together startups, entrepreneurs and the tech community, and Innocircle, the South African-based innovation consultancy.

The top 10 start-ups were selected from 314 entries representing 19 African countries that were received when the challenge was opened last October. These were assessed by a panel of Airbus and other independent experts.

The programme aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship in Africa. The continent’s young and increasingly techno-savvy population is likely to be the driving force behind Africa’s socio-economic development. The competition identifies Africa’s own pool of talented entrepreneurs using innovative aerospace based solutions to tackle the continent’s most pressing challenges such as transportation, agriculture and healthcare.

As a global aerospace accelerator, Airbus BizLab is ideally suited to help African startups transform innovative ideas into viable and valuable businesses. In doing so, it increases the aerospace industry’s engagement with hardware and software innovators and entrepreneurs in Africa while helping to nurture the establishment of competitive entrepreneurial ecosystems on the continent.

The Nairobi event kicks off an intensive 6-month business incubation and accelerator programme involving technical, commercial and mentorship activities in France, Germany and South Africa. This includes workshops and coaching sessions with Airbus experts, GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa, MEST and Innocircle coaches.

The programme will culminate with Demo Day events at the biennial Paris International Airshow and a special event in Germany from 19-26 June, when finalists will launch their products, define their collaboration with Airbus and announce their investment commitments in front of representatives from across the aerospace industry.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

Finalists:

1. Astral Aerial (Kenya) – using drones for humanitarian cargo transport, surveillance and emergency response.

2. Cote d’Ivoire drone (Ivory Coast) – locally-manufactured drones for various applications.

3. Elemental Numerics (South Africa) – applies computational fluid dynamics techniques to the design of machines and components, ranging from aircraft to heart valves.

4. Lentera Limited (Kenya) – applying remote sensors to monitor and transmit environmental data to enable more efficient and smarter farming.

5. Maisha ICT Tech PLC (Ethiopia) – deploying locally built drones for delivering medicines, blood and healthcare items to remote and rural areas.

6. MamaBird (Malawi) – provides a platform to help Governments, NGOs and other organisations deliver vital life-saving supplies to remote communities.

7. Map Action (Mali) – a solution offering real-time online urban mapping to identify problems affecting water supplies, hygiene and sanitation.

8. MobiTech Water Solutions (Kenya) – an online real-time water monitoring solution that allows businesses, homes and water-service providers to manage their available water using an app-based dashboard and instant messaging.

9. Track Your Build (Nigeria) – a novel infrastructure management tool for construction and operations.

10.WiPo Wireless Power (South Africa) – offers reliable and convenient wireless power chargers for businesses, conference centres, airports, restaurants and other venues for the charging of mobile devices, laptops and drones.

Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up Success

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