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Democratisation of innovation moves to the grassroots

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When we think disruption, companies like Uber and Airbnb come to mind. But, when we look at software and hardware, HITENDRA NAIK of Intel, believes that any company, big or small can play its roll in changing the markets operate.

When we speak about disruption, we often default to unicorn companies like Uber and Airbnb, which shook up the global taxi and hotel industries, respectively. But with the democratisation of software and hardware, the reality is that anyone can start a business these days and the biggest disruptors and innovators can come from emerging markets and not just the US and Silicon Valley.

Innovations South Africa’s Giraffe  and MyQ from Nigeria have set out to solve real and local challenges, such as unemployment and transportation industry management, respectively. Developers and makers in these and other emerging markets have shown that the game-changers don’t have to be the Ubers of the world but can be the two-man startup that’s making a tangible difference in the lives of thousands.

Innovation moves into hardware space

Until now, global innovation has primarily been in the software space. The adage ‘there’s an app for that’ is testament to the fact that, whatever problem you have, there’s likely an app that attempts to solve it. This is only possible because the democratisation and accessibility of software development tools has enabled anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and some knowledge of coding to do pretty much anything.

But with 1,300 apps being added to app stores every day, we’re seeing an evolution in disruption away from only software to how applications can be linked to hardware, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to leapfrog infrastructure gaps and to understand and even pre-empt what people want.

It’s now easier than ever to innovate in this space. The democratisation of hardware and compute platforms like Intel’s Edison, Joule and RealSense platforms, as well as its software and cloud analytics platforms, coupled with easier access to funding through crowdsourcing options like Kickstarter, has created a low barrier to entry and has opened up the market to anyone with an idea, to build a business with lower barriers to entry.

Cloud services have also been democratised and, in the future, technologies like artificial intelligence will be, too.

Developers and makers will innovate and build on computer platforms and link any device to data in order to address societal problems that many thought were unsolvable. Think smart cities that can communicate to authorities exactly where water leaks are; health systems that can predict an epidemic long before it becomes a threat; and connected buildings that, when on fire, can help emergency personnel save more lives.

The startups of today will enable the next-generation governments of the future who will harness modern technology for societal transformation that will change the way we live and work to deliver new experiences that fuel GDP growth and create jobs.

Creating a sustainable ecosystem

But with a failure rate of 50% within the first four years, startups need to be enabled through partnerships, incubator hubs, technology and business support to help the public and private sectors reach this level of digital transformation.

Governments in emerging markets have modelled local startup hubs on those seen in Silicon Valley and other developed markets after realising the potential they have for innovation and job creation.

But we need to do more to help these small businesses succeed.

At the public sector level, startups are already benefiting from tax incentives, which allow them to invest more money into their businesses during the crucial first few years. Partnerships with universities will give startups access to a pool of people who are educated in science and technology and can help them to scale their ideas.

The private sector also has a role to play in terms of creating opportunities for startups to showcase their ideas, connect with other startups, and network with investors. Events like Seedstars World  and Demo Africa not only help to discover the best startups but through challenges like the Intel Solutions Challenge, startups in the cloud, IoT and analytics space also gain exposure to potential financiers as well as mentors in all areas of business support to give them a better chance of success. Winners of the challenge also get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a wider support ecosystem of potential investors and partners to ensure their business is not only successful but also sustainable.

Now that everything is democratised, the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world don’t need to come out of the US – there certainly isn’t a monopoly on great ideas in developed markets. World-changing innovation is taking place at the grassroots level in emerging markets and I believe that the next big global company will come from one of these regions. But we need to make it easier for startups to survive, to access funding and to create an environment and culture that is conducive to sustainability. It starts with getting them the exposure they need and cutting the red tape that is contributing to the high failure rate.

* Hitendra Naik, Director of Innovation, Middle East, Turkey & Africa at Intel.

Featured

Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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