Joburg startups win $154k at Green City Startup challenge

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Three startups shared ZAR2.1 million (US$153,000) after being declared winners of the Green City Startup competition aimed at supporting green entrepreneurs.

Disrupt Africa reported in January on the competition, which was looking to develop revolutionary or immediately scalable ideas in the green space.

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

The original 86 received proposals were reduced to eight, each of which received ZAR250,000 (US18,000) to build a prototype of their idea. They also received technical support to improve their ideas and help them present their pitches to a panel of judges including an independent team of entrepreneurs and technical experts.

Paseka Lesolang won ZAR1 million (US$73,000) for his Leak-Less Valve, which prevents up to 30 per cent of the water loss in the case of a toilet leak, while Sean Moolman from PowerOptimal was awarded ZAR500,000 (US$36,000) for his PowerOptimal power demand management technology, which helps reduce peak power demand by up to 50 per cent.

Gabriel Ally from GezaJozi won ZAR300,000 (US$22,000) for the Recycle e-Trike – a 500w electrically-assisted tricycle, with Yolandi Schoeman from Baoberry winning the same amount for her AqueouSphere floating treatment wetland that can help address the City of Johannesburg’s water and sanitation challenges due to urbanisation.

“We were looking for ideas that were immediately scalable and entries were open to startups, 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,” said Ravi Naidoo, executive director of economic development at the city.

“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.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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