Five startups stand to win a €10k grant in Irish Tech Challenge 2023

  • Startups are invited to apply for the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023 where €10 000 and a trip to Ireland is up for grabs.
  • The challenge hopes to give startups a boost with the grant money while also helping founders and executives network with business leaders.
  • Applications close on 29th September.

Startups play a vital role in stoking the fires of job creation in South Africa. The South African Startup Ecosystem Report 2022 from Disrupt Africa found that by May 2022, 490 tech startups had employed 11 000 people.

Fostering the growth of startups is vital to the local economy and a new challenge aims to help startups get a leg up.

The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa in partnership with Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Department of Science & Innovation (DSI), and Dogpatch Labs Ireland have announced the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023.

Through the challenge, the organisers hope to foster collaboration where local innovation meets Irish technology expertise.

Startups that make it all the way through the challenge will receive €10 000 (~R203 000), as well as a curated business networking trip to Ireland.

Applications for the challenge are open right now and close on 29th September. Participants will be confirmed by 6th October whereafter a pre-acceleration programme will run from 9th to 15th October. Startups will then participate in a Showcase Week from the 20th to the 24th November.

The trip to Ireland will take place in February 2024.

Startups that demonstrate commercial potential – whether post or pre-revenue – are invited to apply but there are some criteria that should be highlighted. Startups will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Sector: Clean/Green-Tech, Circular Economies, Med/Health/Biotech, Ed-Tech, WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene),
  • Impact: Addressing one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. See the list here,
  • Team: One founder or CEO must be full-time. Women or youth-led businesses as well as those led by persons from historically disadvantaged communities are encouraged to apply,
  • Ownership: At least 51 percent owned by a South African national,
  • Geography: Headquartered in South Africa or Ireland.

The five startups that will win the €10 000 grant and trip to the Emerald Isle will be selected by a panel consisting of:

  • Paul Deane, Trade and Education counsellor at the Embassy of Ireland,
  • Dr Babongile Mkhize, director for Innovation Priorities and Instruments at the Department of Science and Innovation,
  • Hesus Inoma, International Liaison at Dogpatch Labs – Ireland,
  • Monique Griffith, head of Innovation Partnerships at the City of Johannesburg,
  • Nicola Kelly, director: Sub-Saharan Africa at Enterprise Ireland,
  • Ephraim Phalafala, deputy director in the Department of Science and Innovation,
  • Professor Helen Duh, head of School: School of Business Sciences University of the Witwatersrand,
  • Edwell Gumbo, head of Enterprise Development Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.

The first Irish Tech Challenge South Africa was hosted in 2022. One of the winners was Sabelo Sibanda, founder of AI firm MLX Ventures.

“Participating in the Irish Tech Challenge has been truly transformative for me. I got to be exposed to the Irish Tech ecosystem and culture. This allowed me to grow my business, as a result,” Sibanda said in a statement.

As mentioned, applications close 29th September so apply now over on the official website here.


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