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Irish Tech Challenge boosts innovation in South Africa

- Wits University

The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa has announced the five South African tech start-ups that will participate in the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023.

Irish Tech Challenge

The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa, in conjunction with Wits University's Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Department of Science & Innovation (DSI), and Dogpatch Labs Ireland, joined forces to present The Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023.

Launched on July 31, 2023, the program invited South African startups to participate, receiving an overwhelming response with a total of 266 applications. Following rigorous interviews, 13 finalists emerged, and ultimately, five startups were selected as winners.

The Irish Tech Challenge, SA's flagship tech startup program, will award a range of benefits upon the chosen startups, including up to €10,000 in funding, a funded business networking trip to Ireland, access to Ireland's tech ecosystem, and acceleration support provided in collaboration with Dogpatch Labs in Ireland.

The event had two primary objectives. Firstly, it aimed to spotlight the top 5 entrepreneurs who were honored with the Irish Tech Challenge prize. Among them were Wits graduates, Thato Schermer and Neo Hutiri, founders of health tech startups Zoie Health and PeleBox, respectively. The other recipients included Vuyo Pakade, founder of HRTech startup Foonda Africa, Dr. Benedicta Durcan, founder of AfroBodies, a biotech startup in the Western Cape, and Tumelo Chiloane, co-founder of Agritech startup Desert Green Africa.

The second objective was to emphasize the crucial role of both local and international stakeholders collaborating to support startups in their growth journey. Furthermore, the event sought to position the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa as a model of effective inter-governmental, public, and private partnerships that stimulate the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Irish Tech Challenge stands out with its collaborative initiative, fusing Irish technological expertise with the innovation of South African tech entrepreneurs. Rooted in promoting innovation, fostering technology development, and ensuring effective technology deployment within South Africa, the program places special emphasis on empowering diversity. It actively encourages applications from women, young entrepreneurs, individuals from historically disadvantaged communities, and startups aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The selected entrepreneurs not only receive financial aid but also gain premier access to Ireland's vast technological expertise and influential networks to bolster their growth.