South African Innovators Can Enter The RE:SOLVE Challenge

South African Innovators Can Enter The RESOLVE Challenge

Entries for RE:SOLVE – a purpose-led innovation challenge that gives entrepreneurs funding for prototypes – are now open until 31 October.

With South Africa facing numerous social and economic issues, many exacerbated by COVID-19, there is a real need for new ideas and innovative solutions to be fast-tracked. Enter the RE:SOLVE Challenge, an initiative that is designed to help South Africa’s innovative entrepreneurs to take their next steps. Now in its second iteration, RE:SOLVE has issued a call for entries for its next round of support and funding.

Once the 2021 call for entries closes at 17h00 on 31 October 2021, 80 ideas will be shortlisted to participate in an eight-month programme. After this, 6-8 participants will be announced and given the opportunity to prototype their ideas via their share of a total of R100,000 in grant funding on offer. RE:SOLVE Challenge are online only.

RE:SOLVE is funded by the City of Cape Town and managed by the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), a non-profit company with 20 years of success in developing creative people, small businesses and the craft and design sector in South Africa. RE:SOLVE’s aim is to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals and teams to co-create bold solutions, with a focus on access to economic opportunities, quality healthcare, food security, and water and sanitation.

With people at its heart, the Challenge will celebrate ideas that embrace:
– Community – enriching those around you.
– Ecology – not harming, but rather benefiting the planet.
– Dignity – valuing people and providing them with a sense of worth.
– Profitability – an ability to make money.

Covid-19 has changed everyone’s landscape. In South Africa it has brutally exposed the fault lines that pre-existed before the pandemic. Instability and volatility are high and inequalities are growing. There is a clear and present opportunity to re-evaluate, re-formulate and re-set. In this context, there is huge space to develop new ideas or fast-track and elevate existing equitable solutions.

‘We are proud supporters of the RE:SOLVE initiative as these unprecedented times call for innovative thinking and product creation. As a City, our primary focus is on recovery through innovation and the support of fresh ideas from our ecosystems. These innovations will ultimately lead to the stabilisation of the economy and job creation. We call on individuals, teams and SMEs to participate in this challenge,’ said Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management at the City of Cape Town.

‘The RE:SOLVE Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to join in a facilitated process that will help South African innovators take their ideas from concept to more of a reality,’ said Erica Elk, Group CEO of the CDI.

‘We are looking particularly for solutions that can improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. It’s a challenge not just for designers, but for anyone who is passionate about contributing to finding solutions to some of our biggest problems and has ideas for products or services – new or already tried and tested in some way – that they want to get traction with. The RE:SOLVE Challenge is also ideal for those small businesses in the country who have ideas for new products or services that improve equitable access in our society – the Challenge can assist these innovative existing entrepreneurs to shift their concepts to the next level.’

The design thinking components of the challenge will be facilitated by digital transformation practice dY/dX, a consultancy that assists businesses to adapt and grow in rapidly changing environments. The Challenge will also provide access to industry mentors and expose the participants to perspectives and networks that could help them to shape their ideas.

In 2020, approximately 200 applicants entered their big ideas. From this intake, 10 South African innovators were selected to receive grant funding to prototype their ideas, all connected by the common thread of providing solutions. Their inspiring ideas highlight the innovative solutions that can surface when South African entrepreneurs are given a platform.

Take 2020’s Matshidiso Mabe for example. Mabe turned to digital solutions to put children at the centre of learning with a chat App that aims to create a learning triangle between the Early Childhood Development (ECD) educator, learner and school community. It is designed to help capacitate schools through professional development tools and strategic programmes.

Coming from a background in interior and graphic design, Hazel Suttill channelled her creativity into a box that holds disaster relief goods and care packages. Once used, the box can be converted into furniture, providing a solution that is two-fold.

Looking to combine community and transport, while putting a new spin on taking to the streets, Mcebo Shange’s innovation is an AI mobile and web App that could make the collection of data about deteriorating road conditions faster, cheaper, and easier. He is creating a crowd economy platform that enables anyone with a vehicle and smartphone to become a road condition data capturer.

While Shange’s platform focuses on roads, Sandile Mtshiki’s idea focuses on vehicles. He innovated the Phola Auto Table – a versatile, robust, foldable and portable accessory for vehicles that could tap into a range of markets.

Jessica Murphy, a teacher, tapped into her agricultural passion to take forward a simple, sustainable, innovative product that could help to transform arid sites into abundant food gardens. Today, her idea exists in the form of Harvest Moon Grow Box, a company which provides all the materials, tools, information and seeds required to start an organic edible garden in a biodegradable box, including an Olla irrigation pot.

Also taking an ingenious approach to agriculture, Suzanne Smit’s urban farming idea was close to home in the literal sense. Her concept is geared to setting up indoor aquaponic growing facilities in local communities. It is a sustainable farming methodology occupying less space and requiring less water than traditional farming methods – critical barriers in many communities. Her vision is to make locally-grown products available without the costly expense of transport and packaging.

Community and dignity are at the heart of Nomtandazo Sicolo’s idea. Sicolo was a passionate student working in a call centre when she submitted her idea. With RE:SOLVE she was given the chance to venture into the world of low-cost housing and modern banking, developing an innovative idea that utilises Stokvel savings.

Like Sicolo, Ross Eyre and Che Coelho looked to modern approaches to money, leveraging a background in design and entrepreneurial experience to produce a digital mutual-credit currency designed to redeem cost-effective networking services. It would be the first asset-backed currency of its kind.

Teri Kruger and her team combined their competencies and her energy expertise to develop a solar powered grid storage system – using locally produced Li-ion batteries. This idea provides purpose-built containerised battery and mini-grids systems or units that can be sealed, shipped and operated anywhere, including grid-tied areas.

Zamani Manqele used his background in catering and manufacturing to ideate a smart grocery bag handle that not only counteracts the hand strain from carrying heavier grocery bags, but also has a GPS distress button for emergencies.

RE:SOLVE Challenge