Irish Tech Challenge 2023

Innovative entrepreneurs advance with €10,000 in funding and a curated networking tour to Ireland

The Embassy of Ireland in South Africa, in partnership with Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Dogpatch Labs Ireland is thrilled to announce the selection of five tech startups for the prestigious Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023.

Now in its second successful year, the collaboration between the Irish Embassy in South Africa and the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct aims to forge mutually beneficial partnerships between South African entrepreneurs and Irish technology expertise, leveraging Ireland’s global tech hub status. 

This year’s Challenge saw nearly 300 entries from South African-owned, growth-stage tech startups focused on fulfilling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The five selected startups have undergone an intensive pre-acceleration programme complete with workshops, masterclasses, and mentorship sessions. The five innovators will now showcase their solutions at a special showcase event to be held at Tshimologong on Tuesday, 21 November 2023. 

From there, they will head to Ireland in February 2024 for an acceleration programme with Dogpatch Labs, a 500-member strong startup and innovation hub located in Dublin.

The selected innovators are:

Thato Schermer – Zoie Health

Zoie Health is an all-in-one women’s health and family platform. Created by women for women, Zoie Health provides accessible and comprehensive healthcare services for women and families.

Neo Hutiri – Pelebox

Technovera is a social impact organisation that is focused on technology inclusion to improve last-mile delivery for chronic medication access in Africa. They have developed Pelebox, a smart locker system that enables patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under two minutes.

Vuyo Pakade – Foonda Africa

Foonda Africa is a Pan-African talent marketplace that aims to unlock Africa’s next generation of talent. They connect companies with skilled young candidates quickly and affordably. Foonda Africa focuses on graduate recruitment and empowers young individuals across the continent.

Benedicta Durcan – Afrobodies

AfroBodies is a South African biotechnology company that produces recombinant alpaca antibodies to supply the local and global life sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic markets. They are advancing scientific research and working together with scientists to make novel discoveries that will lead to new diagnostic tests and disease treatment.

Tumelo Chiloane – Desert Green

Desert Green is an agritech transforming the informal agri-value chain in Africa by enabling an efficient supply of fresh produce from small-scale farmers to informal traders. GreenKart is their B2B eCommerce platform allowing small-scale farmers to list recently planted crops to help farmers access markets and minimise post-harvest losses.

“This initiative showcases the strength of Irish-South African collaboration in technology and innovation. The Irish Tech Challenge South Africa not only highlights Ireland’s commitment to fostering global technological partnerships but also our dedication to supporting emerging entrepreneurs in realizing their potential on the world stage,” says Ambassador of Ireland to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Austin Gormley.

The Irish Tech Challenge will award the five selected entrepreneurs:

  • Up to €10,000 each in funding.
  • A funded trip to Ireland where they will be part of a curated business networking programme with access to the country’s top business leaders.
  • Access to the Irish tech ecosystem with potential opportunities for further funding.
  • Receive acceleration support to position their global scaling strategy in collaboration with Dogpatch Labs.

Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Resources, Daan Du Toit says, “The Irish Tech Challenge represents a significant step in our ongoing efforts to bridge the gap between South African ingenuity and global markets. Through this partnership, we are unlocking new opportunities for our local tech entrepreneurs, contributing significantly to sustainable economic development.”

Lesley-Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, adds, “The talent and innovation we’ve seen this year are testament to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in South Africa. Our role in nurturing these startups at the Tshimologong Precinct has been immensely rewarding, and we’re excited to see how they evolve and make their mark globally.”

Hesus Inoma, Representative from Dogpatch Labs Ireland agrees, “Dogpatch Labs is excited to be part of this journey with South Africa’s brightest tech startups. We believe in the power of collaboration across borders to drive innovation, and this challenge is a perfect example of how international partnerships can bring about transformative growth in the tech sector.”

High-growth tech entrepreneurs are pivotal for innovation, economic growth, job creation, and poverty alleviation. However, South African tech entrepreneurs face challenges like limited resources, lack of access, and high technology costs when scaling globally. The Irish Tech Challenge plays a crucial role in breaking these barriers, empowering South African startups to thrive on the global stage.

To attend the showcase virtually and witness groundbreaking innovations on 21 November, register here.


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