E-health startup wins $64k at #Hack.Jozi Challenge

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Tech-enabled medical service Technovera walked away with ZAR1 million (US$64,000) in prize money after winning the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge, aimed at identifying digital solutions to problems in Johannesburg.

Over 400 applications were received for the #HackJozi Challenge, a bootcamp for startup entrepreneurs launched last year by the City of Johannesburg and the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University, and now being mirrored by the City of Cape Town.

Ten finalists were selected, with Neo Hutiri, founder of Technovera, eventually scooping top spot. The service allows people with chronic conditions to collect their repeat medication in a few minutes, rather than waiting several hours in long queues.

“I used to be a patient collecting treatment from a public clinic. It’s really an unpleasant experience to wait the whole day just to manage your condition. Technovera is a technology solution that improves patient care by ending the indignity and exhaustion of long queues,” Hutiri said.

First runner-up was Tuta-Me, a mobile application that connects qualified tutors and students, while second runner-up was eSubmit, a digital solution for submitting building plan applications to the municipality. Both runners up were awarded ZAR350,000 (US$22,000) each to develop their ideas and establish sustainable businesses.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development in the City of Joburg Ruby Mathang said digital technologies are powering the development of cities across the world.

“The #HackJozi Challenge is aimed at driving our smart city agenda while catalysing innovation and development,” she said. “This year’s winners show how involving citizens in identifying technology solutions to everyday problems is a powerful way improve the efficiency of services, meet residents’ needs and help improve quality of life in Joburg.”

Ravi Naidoo, executive director for economic development for the City of Johannesburg, said participation in the 2016 challenge had increased sharply compared to the first round of the initiative, held last year.

“We received over 400 strong applications, compared to 140 last year, and eliminating contestants down to the top 10 and then the top three as the challenge progressed was far tougher than we anticipated,” he said.

“The winning ideas of the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge are scalable and driven by highly motivated and capable young people who were born into the ICT age. Further development of their ideas will see them make a huge difference in helping people in Johannesburg while creating more jobs and economic opportunities as they grow.”

The winners of the challenge do not receive their prizes as a cash hand-out, said Professor Barry Dwolatzky director of the JCSE at Wits University.

“They will be closely guided and supported by experienced mentors. The prize money helps build profitable and sustainable businesses that scale, create jobs and produce more pockets of positive economic activity across our city,” he said.

“In addition all top ten finalists will be hosted in the incubator that forms part of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein.”

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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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