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Singularity University, better known as SingularityU, has announced that entries to its Global Impact Challenge (GIC) competition for Southern Africa will close on Tuesday 18 April.
The GIC, now in its second year, is open to “innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists,” and aims to develop technologies and solutions to problems that will impact the lives of a billion people within ten years.
“This year, we are looking for talented women and men who have the skills and passion to develop and launch a startup company around a moonshot idea that addresses climate change, although we will also accept outstanding applicants who have other areas of expertise or choose to innovate in other fields,” director of GICs at SingularityU Regina Njima explains.
“We selected the climate change theme because it has consequences for every industry, geographic region, and way of life.”
SingularityU’s GIC for Southern Africa will focus on climate change
The winners will be judged on 19 May by a panel comprised of SingularityU, and senior representatives from the business and entrepreneurship sectors in the region.
The winner of the GIC will be given a complete scholarship to SingularityU’s Global Solutions Programme (GSP), which takes place in Silicon Valley, California.
“The GSP is a complete rollercoaster of tech, grand challenges, events and networking,” notes Dr. Nick Walker, the winner of the previous edition of the GIC.
“It is a super intense 10 weeks that changes the way you see the world. For the first six weeks we were immersed in the latest technologies and how they can be leveraged to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity at the moment.”
“Finalists benefit from the challenge by having access to a cadre of expert mentors and advisors from SU to engage with them in the startup phase of their projects,” SingularityU adds.
Winning isn’t easy
Speaking of finalists, Walker of NextBiosciences who won the first edition of the Southern Africa GIC, is currently pioneering a potential treatment for HIV/AIDS, fuelled by the win.
“The idea was inspired by an American man, Timothy Brown who was HIV positive and developed leukaemia. Brown received a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that made the stem cells immune to HIV/Aids. As a result, Brown has not needed ARVs since,” he explains.
‘Dream big. Go for the moonshots. If less than 50% of the people you tell think you are crazy, the idea isn’t bold enough’
“My interest in the pioneering research into gene editing for curing HIV/AIDS, currently underway around the world, led me to consider the next steps once this research results in a replicable therapy.
“This interest, combined with my experience in the industry of processing and storing umbilical cord blood, resulted in the idea of a large-scale stem cell bank with the necessary facilities to process and store the vast amount of stem cells that would make this potential treatment for HIV/AIDS feasible.”
“The win was the realisation of an aspiration I had for three-four years, it was incredible,” he adds.
Who can enter? How can I enter?
The GIC is open to those over the age of 21 living in the following countries: Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As for advice, Walker suggests you take the plunge regardless of the challenge.
“Firstly, enter. If you don’t swing, you don’t hit. SU tries to gather (a) group of people with a wide range of skill sets. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist! There were artists and university dropouts among the obvious tech types,” he adds.
“Lastly, dream big. Go for the moonshots. If less than 50% of the people you tell think you are crazy, the idea isn’t bold enough.”
So, ready to take a swing? Visit this link to enter SingularityU’s GIC.
Memeburn is SingularityU Cape Town and Johannesburg Chapters’ official media partner.