by Kgaugelo Selane

The launch of the City of Tshwane’s (CoT) 2024 Higher Education Innovation Challenge, an initiative designed to inspire students from local universities and colleges to develop new solutions for the city’s problems, will hugely benefit the Tshwane student community. The challenge that was introduced in November 2019, is a collaboration between the Innovation Hub and several educational institutions including the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the University of Pretoria, the University of South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Tshwane North College and Tshwane South College.

In introducing the challenge, Deputy Mayor, Nasiphi Moya, highlighted its aim to engage students in finding creative solutions for service delivery issues in Tshwane. "The Innovation Challenge is open to both fulltime and part-time students from these institutions and participants can choose from three of the categories to create their solutions," said Moya.

Innovative proposals submitted by students will be reviewed by a panel of experts. Winners will receive prize money ranging from R30,000 to R50,000, during an awards ceremony in November 2024.

The three categories in the challenge are:

  • Multi-Service Municipal Digital Booking System: create a system to streamline access to various municipal services.
  • Electronic Burial Management System: create a system to enhance the management of cemetery operations.
  • Human Resources Management System for the Expanded Public Works Programme: create a system to improve the monitoring and effectiveness of this employment initiative. 

Dr Hamilton Mphidi, Head of Innovation and Technology Transfer at TUT.

"The goal is to prepare future entrepreneurs who can solve pressing city challenges and improve the quality of life in South Africa," Moya explained. She emphasised the importance of education and innovation in driving economic growth and solving problems in the digital age.

According to Dr Hamilton Mphidi, Head of Innovation and Technology Transfer at TUT, the challenge is a great opportunity for TUT students to showcase their talents and contribute to meaningful changes in the community. He noted that in 2021, Pinky Mokwena, a TUT student won the first prize of R 150 000. 

"This challenge marks an important moment in promoting collaboration between the industry and higher education institutions. It's an opportunity to share knowledge and transfer skills within our community," he said.

The 2024 Higher Education Innovation Challenge also demonstrates CoT’s commitment to using education and technology to build a dynamic and competitive entrepreneurial community. By involving students in this mission, the city aims to inspire a new generation of innovators who can develop solutions that meet Tshwane's needs.

Dr Mphidi also encouraged TUT students and their peers from other institutions to participate in the challenge, that will enable them to make a positive impact while gaining valuable experience in innovation and governance.

Delegates from the various Tshwane-based higher education institutions
attending the launch of the 2024 Higher Education Innovation Challenge.

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