Shack fire response system wins Startup Weekend Cape Town

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Khaya Fighters, an all-female group that has designed a system designed to improve the response from fire services to fires in informal settlements, was named the winner of the recent Startup Weekend event held in Cape Town.

Disrupt Africa reported last month entrepreneurs with ideas in the areas of green economy, education, health, smart cities and better living had been invited to apply to Startup Weekend, the first time the event has taken place at the new Bandwidth Barn in Khayelitsha.

More than 100 entrepreneurs and industry professionals gathered for the event, with Khaya Fighters chosen by the audience and judges as the final winner. Khaya Fighters’ system includes a smoke detector connected to an alarm system that automatically alerts the nearest fire department. The fire department will receive a GPS location of where the house in question is situated.

The startup aims to provide this service to municipalities, installing two devices in each household to detect the intensity of the fire. In the event of fire signals are sent to the nearest fire stations and the neighbouring household.

Startup Weekend began on the Friday night, with entrepreneurs pitching their ideas and forming teams. These teams then spent the the entire Saturday and Sunday morning validating their concepts, doing research and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches from relevant markets.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, a total of nine teams pitched their final products to the audience and received feedback from a panel of judges. In attendance was Western Cape minister of economic opportunities Alan Winde, who said how encouraged he was by seeing such entrepreneurial tech in action.

“I really think we have a great innovation future in the southern tip of Africa. The ecosystem is getting better. Well done to all the teams that pitched. You were all great,” Winde said.

Other speakers included Ekasi Green Project co-founder Sizwe Nyuka Mlenzana, and Western Cape economic development partnership programme facilitator Jodi Allemeier.

“The exciting ideas prototyped over the course of Startup Weekend demonstrated the innovative and entrepreneurial capacity emerging in the Cape Town tech scene, and re-affirmed the potential to create new value chains, skills sets and jobs through a shift to a smart city, and a digital economy,” Allemeier said.

“The event showcased the impact of organisations like CiTi and the Bandwidth Barn in working to ensure that, not only are these opportunities realised, but that they also contribute to the agenda of inclusive economic transformation. Many of the ideas prototyped are great examples of “social entrepreneurship” – offering enterprising solutions to challenges faced by residents of Cape Town.”

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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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