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Four digital entrepreneurs win big at Joburg Smart City Innovation Challenge 

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Four digital entrepreneurs win big at Joburg Smart City Innovation Challenge 

28th June 2022

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The Covid-19 pandemic caught the world off guard, however, the City, its citizens and businesses were pushed to be innovative and technologically driven to continue with core functions, says Acting City Manager, Christiaan “Tiaan” Ehlers at the 2021-22 smart City Innovation Challenge Awards. 

Ehlers was delivering the keynote address at this year’s edition of Smart City Innovation Challenge Awards hosted by the City of Joburg at Wits University’s Tshimologong Innovation Precinct on Monday, 27 June 2022. 

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Four digital entrepreneurs, QH Consultants, Iconix Engineering Solutions, Technological Plumbing Solutions and Graf-in Tech, were announced as 2021-22 winners. They walked away with R500 000 each and a pilot opportunity for their solutions within City departments or entities the solutions are linked to.  

Ehlers said the pandemic fast-tracked the City’s collective readiness for the fourth industrial revolution, and exposed gaps in service provision, the weaknesses in old operation models and reliance on antiquated equipment that cannot be engaged remotely.  

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“The Joburg Multi-Party Government adopted the Golden Start aimed at turning the City around.  Joburg has always been a City of opportunities, attracting skills and those in pursuit of a better future during the Gold rush. No different is it today as opportunities in technology, finance, data and innovation are the new gold.  

“This innovation challenge is our quest to mine gold from the City’s own backyard. We are supporting local innovators to provide local solutions to those who live, work and play here in Joburg. The Mayor’s Golden Start is driven by seven mayoral priorities. A ‘Smart City’ is one of the seven mayoral priorities.  It is the priority that we respond to with this Innovation Challenge,” said Ehlers. 

Lawrence Boya, the Smart City Office Leader, said that through the Smart City Office, Joburg continues to push boundaries by giving innovative approaches, talent and new ideas - available both inside and outside of government - a chance to find expression across the City through pilots and demonstrations. 

“The 2021-22 Smart City Call for Innovation went on a citywide search to find the best solutions to respond to the challenges faced by our residents. The solutions sought accelerate service delivery, improve the liveability and safety of the City and/or enhance operational efficiencies,” said Boya.

He said the selected innovations contribute to a broader Smart City objective to create an Urban Living Lab. Urban Living Lab refers to a variety of participatory experimental projects that operationalise ideas and bring them closer to becoming actual solutions because they touch real lives and operate in real-time environments.  

Lesley Donna Williams, the CEO of Tshimologong, said: “We should always be alive to these challenges when we seek solutions through start-up digital entrepreneurs. Through such partnerships, we can break some of these barriers and begin to give space to start-up digital entrepreneurs in our townships and elsewhere in the City.” 

 

Issued by Acting Director: Strategic communications Nthatisi Modingoane

 

 

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