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PE tech start-ups boosted by incubator R&D la

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SEDA Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) has opened a new technology research and development centre, located on-site at its Newton Park technology office business park in Port Elizabeth.

The SNII R&D Lab offers assistance and support to creatives, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in PE to design and develop apps, software solutions, as well as electronic and mechanical device prototypes. It forms part of SNII’s technology infrastructure support service to clients enrolled in the centre’s incubation programme and for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“This is a giant step forward for sustainable SMME development in the ICT sector in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Scott Zambonini, Enterprise Development Manager at SNII.

“If you have always dreamed of a new app or had an idea for a technology product or service, the R&D Lab will help to develop a concept into something concrete.”

In particular, the SNII R&D Lab allows users of the service and facility to develop new technology solutions and own the intellectual property and patents on what they develop.

The main advantages of the R&D Lab is the rapid rendering of technology ideas and concepts into concrete solutions with major cost- and time-saving benefits.  In particular, this will help SNII incubator clients and technology entrepreneurs to get new products, services and solutions to the market much faster, explained Zambonini.

“The SNII R&D Lab offers access to integrated technologies, specialist resources and development support which will enable tech entrepreneurs and small business to design, visualise and create prototypes.

“Companies with existing technology-based solutions or products will also be able to use the R&D Lab as a facility for upgrading, expanding and evolving products and services.”

A dedicated team of development experts has been appointed as the design support backbone of the R&D Lab.

The programmers are  literate in a variety of major design programming languages including Javascript, C#, Android Development, Google API’s, SQL, SQLite, MySQL, Python, F#, Matlab and  HTML.  Developers will work closely with and under the direction and supervision of tech entrepreneurs and SNII incubator clients to produce cutting-edge, technology-based products, services and solutions.

The SNII R&D Lab will allow users of the service and facility to design and develop new technology solutions, develop and own technology intellectual property and patents, and unlock technological innovation.

“The R&D Lab is envisioned as the city’s technology innovation epicentre,” said Zambonini.

“The facility will not only empower private and public sector organisations who require technological innovation to remain at the forefront, but will also help SMME’s, tech start-ups, entrepreneurs and clients enrolled on our incubation programmes to take their ideas to a more concrete phase of development,” he said.

Zambonini said that the SNII R&D Lab will improve technological innovation in sectors of Nelson Mandela Bay’s regional economy, including automotive, manufacturing agro-processing, renewable energy and green technology and mari-time economy sectors.

“However, the R&D Lab is first and foremost a resource for big dreamers and innovators from a small business grassroots level.   Raw and rough-diamond business and technology ideas of SMME’s will be brought to life through the support and resources offered by the R&D Lab” he said.

Zambonini said the SNII R&D Lab will also offer the private sector a way to invest, support and show a return in BBBEE enterprise development and skills development spend.

“Through the SNII R&D Lab, corporates and development agencies will be able to allocate financial and non-financial resources to deserving entrepreneurs and high-potential enterprises.”

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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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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 entries 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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