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R5m for green entrepreneurs’ startups from CoJ

R5m for green entrepreneurs’ startups from CoJ

Oct 1, 2015

On Monday 21 September 2015, Counsellor Ruby Mathang, MMC Economic Development announced the winners in The Green City Startup, a R5 million competition aimed at unearthing creative green entrepreneurs whose ideas could help boost Johannesburg’s green culture.

This initiative of the Green Challenge Fund, was developed by The City of Johannesburg, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and Resolution Circle. Resolution Circle is the University of Johannesburg’s technology commercialisation company and incubator.

The challenge began nine months ago when the City sought ideas that could change the world and accelerate innovation in the city. Eighty six proposals were reduced to eight. Each of the eight finalists received R250 000 to build a prototype of their idea and were offered in-depth technical support to improve their ideas and help them present their pitches. These finalists presented their prototypes and business to a panel of judges including an independent team of entrepreneurs and technical experts earlier this month.

Paseka Lesolang from WHC won R1 million for his Leak-Less Valve™ which prevents up to 30% of the water loss in the case of a toilet leak.

Sean Moolman from PowerOptimal was awarded R500 000 for his PowerOptimal™ power demand management technology which helps reduce peak power demand by 30% to 50%, with very little impact on activities. For commercial customers this can mean a 20% saving on their electricity bill.

Gabriel Ally from GezaJozi won R300 000 for the Recycle e-Trike – a 500w electrically-assisted tricycle. It is designed to double the output of trolley recyclers and improve their safety on the road. It can transport 150kg of recyclable waste over a distance of 50km.

Yolandi Schoeman from Baoberry has an AqueouSphere floating treatment wetland that can help address the City of Johannesburg’s water and sanitation challenges due to urbanisation. For this she won R300 000.

Cllr Mathang explained, “The development of a green economy is one of the City of Johannesburg’s core strategic objectives. This is aligned with the National Development Plan, which calls for mutual benefits between sustainable development and low carbon, increasing employment and reducing inequality. It is also aligned with the provincial strategy, which states ‘we will make the transition towards clean, innovative, resource efficient, low carbon technologies and infrastructure’.”

It also addresses the City’s Integrated Development Plan, which emphasises job creation and income generation through waste recycling, energy diversification, green re-fleeting for the city’s fleet, public and private transport vehicles and the city becoming a leader in innovation in the green economy.

Says Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director: Economic Development, “We were looking for ideas that were immediately scalable and entries were open to start-ups, SMEs and partnerships in the areas of energy, waste, water, transport or buildings. Due to the success of this initiative, we will run it again in 2016.

“The Green City Startup competition has been a vivid demonstration of what a “triple helix” – a partnership of government, academia, and business — can achieve. We want to expand the size of the programme, by inviting the private sector to join us in building the innovation system in Johannesburg. The city has provided the seed funding, and we have created partnerships with world-class expertise, in our judges and our technical partners. This provides an effective platform to find and support some of the best entrepreneurial talent in Johannesburg.

“In addition, we have established a Research and Innovation Chair in the Green Economy at the University of Johannesburg. A world class researcher has been recruited to take up the chair, and a cohort of strong post-graduate students and researchers is being formed, with further support from the city.”

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