Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), Stellenbosch University incubator the LaunchLab and Startup Autobahn have partnered launch the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge.
The challenge is asking interested students and professionals, and existing startups, to pitch their innovative ideas around a set of challenges identified by Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
The challenge spans various topics – ranging from big data and machine learning for manufacturing, the digitisation of logistics and production, app-based solutions for the evaluation of the condition of pre-owned vehicles, and chatbot solutions for manufacturing learning.
Successful applicants from the first stream, students and professionals, stand the chance to win incubation support for their innovative ideas. The successful participants from the second stream, the existing startup companies, can get their share of ZAR600,000 (US$45,000) in supplier development, international exposure and the possibility to become a supplier for Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s global parent company Daimler.
All interested parties can register for an information seminar, to be hosted on August 31 at the LaunchLab premises in Stellenbosch. Immediately after this seminar the submission phase will open, where participants can submit a video online or pitch in front of a camera at various participating campuses until the end of September.
A shortlist of teams in both streams will then be notified and enter the second phase of the process where the ideas will be polished and benefit from access to Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Daimler AG and Startup Autobahn expert role-players. In November the shortlisted groups will then have the opportunity to present their ideas to Mercedes-Benz South Africa decision makers.
“MBSA has partnered with the LaunchLab as part of our continuing efforts to contribute to the economic growth and sustainability of the country as a whole and to youth development. The areas that the challenge is focusing on are key to our continued growth and success as we operate in a highly competitive space,” said Andreas Engling, chief executive officer (CEO) and executive director for manufacturing at Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
“The LaunchLab is very excited to have joined hands with Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Startup Autobahn on the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge. This is another example of a well-known multinational seeing the value of engaging with the startup ecosystem and we are very pleased to be able to facilitate the interaction between these two groups to leverage the strengths of both, for mutual benefit. This is an awesome opportunity for our local entrepreneurs,” said Philip Marais, CEO of the LaunchLab.