City of Johannesburg launches COVID-focused smart city challenge


Startups in the 4IR and smart city sectors have been invited to apply for a challenge run by the City of Johannesburg and Tshimologong Innovation Precinct in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Run by the City of Johannesburg’s Smart City office, the Smart City Innovation Challenge aims to find and develop digital technology solutions that respond to urban and community challenges faced by the city in the “new normal” resulting from COVID-19.

“The lockdown protocols have ignited new thinking about the future of our city and its residents. The solutions sought should either save lives or support livelihoods,” the city said.

Lifesaving solutions are those that will enable detection, tracking, and prediction of the spread of the virus, enhance communication and improve healthcare and security in the city. Solutions that support livelihoods are those that help the city and its citizens reduce vulnerability, improve food security, and uphold human dignity. 

“This innovation call is an opportunity for innovators of our city to bring forward their innovative solutions to help our city respond in a smarter way to challenges posed by COVID-19. We also hope to use this initiative to help to grow innovation in Joburg and thus make Joburg the Leading African City of Innovation,” said Lawrence Boya, the Smart City Office leader.

The two winning applications will be taken into a rapid development and prototype-launching process through a virtual bootcamp and prototyping grant of ZAR100,000 (US$6,000) each. This will be followed by opportunity for further funding to take at least one solution into implementation.


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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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