3 SA startups win Mercedes-Benz Innovation Challenge


Four South African startups walked away with a total of ZAR900,000 (US$64,000) in funding to pilot their solutions after winning the inaugural Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) Innovation Challenge.

Disrupt Africa reported in August MBSA, Stellenbosch University incubator the LaunchLab and Startup Autobahn had partnered launch the challenge, asking interested students and professionals, and existing startups, to pitch their innovative ideas around a set of challenges identified by MBSA.

Nine finalists were chosen to present their ideas at a final selection event at the MBSA East London plant, with three category winners and an overall winner chosen.

The two winners in the manufacturing category were DataProphet, a group of machine learning specialists which provides AI/ML development through corporate partnerships with the aim of delivering bleeding-edge machine solutions, and Vizbiliti Insight, an artificial Intelligence company specialising in globally scalable predictive and prescriptive risk management software.

The winner in the sales and marketing category was NumberBoost, a startup that builds machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. 

These category winners each receive ZAR300,000 (US$21,300) to pilot their ideas for future use within MBSA. The overall winner, announced as DataProphet, will also travel to Europe next year to pitch the innovative idea in front of hundreds of automotive decision makers at a big STARTUP AUTOBAHN event in Germany.

“I am highly impressed with the innovative solutions that were displayed at the MBSA Innovation Challenge. South Africa has some serious talent. The presentations were absolutely awesome and provided real solutions to the tasks that we face as a company. I congratulate all startups that presented at this event,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars.


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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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