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Innovation on show in Pretoria

SANSA, together with Airbus Defence and Space, hosted a World Café at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, the culmination of an OpenIX open innovation challenge through which over two dozen small companies, entrepreneurs and scientists developed innovative technologies and applications using earth observation data.

These respondent organisations developed a range of solutions across various industries including in forestry and agriculture, urban planning, insurance and computer gaming.

The World Café directly assisted the entrepreneurs in further commercialising their ideas by creating relationships between these entrepreneurs and representatives of almost 40 different client and investor groups. In total, 74 stakeholders from organisations including Hollard, Absa Capital, Eskom, Tom Tom and the South African Maritime Safety Authority were on hand to discuss the merits and opportunities presented by a select group of entrepreneurs.

The World Café approach itself allowed direct, conversational exchanges between parties, much in the same way “speed dating” introduces individuals to each other.

As an outcome, the organising team has helped to empower and support multiple new entrants to the earth observation industry in South Africa, with the potential for bringing to life new innovations, new products and new companies that can create lasting change in society.

The winners of the original OpenIX open innovation were also announced at the event.

The main prize – site visits to Airbus Defence and Space’s operations in Toulouse, France as well as introductions to Airbus Defence and Space’s global organisation – was won by Drone Clouds, which provides farmers with data and insights about plant stress to increase crop yields.

All finalists, with solutions ranging from insurance for emerging farmers, and artisanal mining to data analytics are being considered for incubation with The Innovation Hub in Pretoria.