SA innovations selected for Mozilla’s $250k internet access challenge

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Three South African innovations have been selected amongst the five semi-finalists of Mozilla’s US$250,000 global Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, an initiative to help provide access to the open internet to those still living without it.

Disrupt Africa reported in October last year on the launch of the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, which Mozilla said will support promising solutions through expert mentorship and funding of US$250,000 in prize monies.

Cape Town-based innovators Tim Human and Dr Carlos Rey-Moreno are amongst the semi-finalists, as well as Steve Song, a South African who is now living in Canada.

Katharina Borchert, Mozilla’s chief innovation officer, and Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs, are part of the challenge’s panel of judges who announced the semi-finalists.

“Not giving people access to information creates a socio-economic divide, not just a digital divide,” said Parker. “Every person on the planet needs to have hope, which is what the internet is for. It gives you information, it gives you a choice, it gives you an option. This is why I wanted to be a part of this challenge and become a judge.”

Mozilla’s judging panel evaluated the submissions against the criteria of compliance with Equal Rating, affordability and accessibility, empathy, technical feasibility, as well as scalability, user experience, differentiation, potential for quick deployment, and team potential.

Each team will now receive eight weeks of mentorship from experts within the Mozilla community, covering topics such as policy, business, engineering, and design.

Mozilla will host a day-long event in New York on March 9 on the topic of affordable access and innovation, where the semi-finalists will present their concepts. There will then be a week of open voting on EqualRating.com to determine the winners, who will be announced at RightsCon in Brussels on March 29.

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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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