Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023: Elevating Sustainable Tech Start-ups

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The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa, in collaboration with partners including Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Technology Innovation Agency, and Dogpatch Labs Ireland, has unveiled the five South African tech start-ups selected for the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023. This initiative, now in its second year, focuses on supporting start-ups aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Challenge attracted nearly 300 entries from growth-stage tech start-ups in South Africa. The selected start-ups underwent an intensive pre-acceleration program featuring workshops, masterclasses, and mentorship sessions. The chosen innovators and their projects are as follows:

  1. Thato Schermer – Zoie Health:
    • Project: An all-in-one women’s health and family online platform providing accessible healthcare services for women and families.
  2. Neo Hutiri – Pelebox:
    • Project: A smart locker system enabling patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under two minutes.
  3. Vuyo Pakade – Foonda Africa:
    • Project: A Pan-African talent marketplace connecting companies with skilled young candidates, unlocking Africa’s next generation of talent.
  4. Benedicta Durcan – AfroBodies:
    • Project: A biotechnology company producing recombinant alpaca antibodies to supply the local and global life sciences, diagnostic, and therapeutic markets.
  5. Tumelo Chiloane – Desert Green:
    • Project: An agritech firm aiming to transform the informal agri-value chain in South Africa and Africa, enabling an efficient supply of fresh produce from small-scale farmers to informal traders.

The Irish Tech Challenge provides the selected entrepreneurs with funding of up to €10,000 each, a funded trip to Ireland for a business networking program, access to Ireland’s tech ecosystem, and acceleration support for global scaling in collaboration with Dogpatch Labs. The entrepreneurs will showcase their solutions at an event in Tshimologong and later head to Ireland for an acceleration program in February 2024.

Daan Du Toit, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Resources, expressed the significance of the Irish Tech Challenge in bridging the gap between South African ingenuity and global markets. Lesley-Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, highlighted the vibrancy of South Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit and the precinct’s role in nurturing start-ups. The challenge aims to contribute significantly to sustainable economic development in the region.

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