BIH IS THE FOCAL POINT FOR WIPO TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION SUPPORT CENTRE (TISC) PROGRAM.
In late November, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Botho University, Botswana College of Engineering & Technology (BCET), University of Botswana (UB), Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST) and Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) to launch the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Technology Innovation Support Centre [TISC] Program for Botswana. Through this MoU, the above five mentioned institutions now form the TISC Network. Services provided by the TISC network includes:
BIH serves as the National Focal Point to coordinate of all TISC activities, provide office support for the TISC Network, serve as an interface with WIPO through the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA). BIH will also organize, with the support of WIPO and CIPA, information awareness-raising and promotion activities involving technical and scientific information on the services provided by the TISC Network.
The Botswana TISC Network institutions will assist researchers and scientists access information relevant to their research and product development works. Equipped with this information, the researchers can make informed decisions on how to progress with their scientific works thus: focus their R&D on improvement of the existing technology, better negotiations with investors on IP rights or outrightly abandon their research to avoid re-inventing the wheel, thus saving on usually limited funds.
BIH STARTUPS BROADEN THEIR HORIZONS AT SLUSH TECH CONFERENCE IN HELSINKI
If your main purpose is to search for funding, partnerships and collaborations, imagine what you could do in a gathering of 25 000 curious minds and more than 2000 investors? Talk about global opportunities! This is what BIH exposed the 4 startup companies to when they were sponsored to attend Global Slush Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Slush is the world’s leading technology Startup event that brings together the leading actors in the global tech scene to Helsinki, every year in November. BIH delivered on one of its functions of creating opportunities for start-ups to present their innovative solutions to potential investors.
The Slush BoostUp event gave 14 African start-ups from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and models to potential investors, while investors learned about the challenges in African countries face in order to partner with them.
The BIH start-up companies who participated in this year’s slush included Sakab Holdings represented by Bernard Sebakile; An electrical engineering company that specializes in providing clean, reliable and affordable electrical energy through off grid power systems, solar generators, solar mini plants and other related solutions.
Mohiri represented by Thato Kasongo; A personalized job alerts service that connect low-medium skilled workers to opportunities for work by sending them alerts on their phones whenever there is a vacancy that matches their profile.
Kalahari Honey represented by Mavis Nduchwa; A company that creates employment, training women farmers in rural Botswana on bee farming to uplift their livelihoods, contribute to food security and conservation. Kalahari Honey is the honey aggregator for processing and marketing honey worldwide. Changing the world one bee at a time.
Cyber Kajumo Rigs represented by Boniswa Bayani; A welding and rigging entity that specializes in giant art's using metal waste. They turn metal scrap into mega art statues or monuments for innovations in the film industry, tourism and education fields. They use art to express modern technologies through refurbishing metals waste.
The 4 startup companies were selected following a BOOST UP campaign organized by BIH in partnership with the Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS) that coached, trained and mentored startups to be able to pitch their solutions to international audience.
Kalahari Honey was awarded with mentorship from Troy Woodson and Futurice and Mohiri was awarded with mentorship from Troy Woodson. Each of the 14 participating startups also received 2 years; worth of Amazon Web Services hosting.
BIH-SEZA MOU MAKES BIH PARK MORE ATTRACTIVE
Like many other countries seeking rapid economic growth, Botswana has SEZs area which are zones intended to facilitate rapid economic growth by leveraging tax incentives to attract foreign investment and technological advancement. In early October, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA). The BIH Science & Technology Park as an area in the Sir Seretse Khama Airport SEZ, benefit investors who set up in the Park with the following;
“The MoU is beneficial as it allows us to market our products better internationally. It comes in handy as we are looking to attract investors in the innovation and technology sector with some already setup at the Science and Technology Park. The MoU would further allow us to integrate development of infrastructure as any future infrastructural developments by SEZA such as roads in the SSKIA special economic zone will be made such that they are in sync with those made by BIH”, BIH CEO Alan Boshwaen.
“We have a plan of action and will be starting phase one of the plan, which we have named ‘Boulevard One’. Non-fiscal incentives that SEZA offers to investors include support in fast tracking the issuance of visas, work and residence permits, identify and introduce investors to service suppliers, and many other incentives”, CEO of SEZA, Mr. Thatayaone Ndzinge.
TOGETHER WE CAN COMBAT WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING USING INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY
BIH partnered with the Kalahari Conservation Society and the Embassy of the United States of America to deliver a ZooHackathon which took place in mid-November.
Zoohackathon is a computer coding and technology intensive event that brings together a sizeable number of creative experts from the technology community to develop innovative solutions software applications, systems and other technology tools to help combat national and international poaching and wildlife trafficking.
BIH is instrumental in the Zoohackathon by providing technical expertise including setting up digital registration, developing terms of reference for the participants, mentorship of the teams during and after the event. As a centre for Innovation, BIH played host the Zoohackathon activity.
BIH regards hackathons as part of a comprehensive innovation process. At the end of the activity, participants built a platform for addressing the recurrent illegal wildlife trade issues. This is an apt way to harness the power of information communication technology to develop usable solutions to problems in relation to Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT).
“We are happy to offer our expertise which is aligned to our purpose of driving the innovation agenda in Botswana through provision of technical guidance and provision of conducive environment for innovative initiatives such as hackathons. We are happy to continue to be a linkage between problem solvers “innovators” and the industry” said BIH CEO, Alan Boshwaen.
The winning pitch by team Hangers was awarded USD 3,500.00 prize money and stand in line to compete with other Zoohackathon solutions in Washington, D.C.
The prototype developed by team Hangers will further be developed and be adopted for use hence empowering our communities to combat wildlife trafficking.
The second prize of USD 1, 000.00 was scooped by team Strawberry
3rd prize went to team Omniscient Eye
MEET RECIPIENTS OF THE BIF SECOND CALL FOR PROPOSALS
ELGenuin Engineering Technology
The technology solution is a stability monitoring and alert initiative that uses advanced stability monitoring and alert technologies at a mining site. It will monitor the slightest seismic disturbance, ground motion and vibrations on areas developing instabilities. In addition, it will give on-site alerts and insight on critical stability and impending geohazards. The technology allows monitoring movement of miners and equipment on the mining site for aid with location.
The Pollution Free Power Generator is a hybrid solution generating electricity for domestic consumption. It consists of different battery charging system not relying on combustion of fossil fuel. Therefore, it’s a Clean Technology Power Generator Solution.
Mmoloki Makoba from BIUST
The technology is a small-scale integrated gasification power plant using Botswana coal in a more economic and environmentally friendly manner. It is therefore a less harmful process than the conventional power generation process. The plant targets to produce electricity for homes and businesses in areas without access to the national grid.
Casper Nyamukondiwa from BIUST
The solution is a bug-bio-factory that produces locally reared parasitoid cocoons (‘biopesticide’) for biological control of agricultural pests. The aim is to provide a downloadable software application for the spatio-temporal forecasting of major insect pest outbreaks (BotsBug App). This will sustainably improve production efficiency, yields, household nutrition, reduce cost of production and improve food security.
“We took a deliberate decision to open the call to a broader pool of applicants including companies that are not registered with BIH. We are happy to have received an increase in the number of applications (324) indicating a significant level of interest and efforts to innovate by Batswana. The funded projects are expected to scale up by accessing other funding instruments such as commercial banks and development funding institutions”. BIH CEO, Mr Alan Boshwaen
The Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF) is a Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology initiative, administered by the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH). In line with the BIH mandate, the Second Call for Proposals sought innovative solutions in the sectors of Mining technologies, Clean technologies, Biotechnology (Agriculture and Health Technologies), Information and Communications technologies and Indigenous knowledge systems.
The recipients are funded up to P2 million per project that is spent on eligible costs only. The funded projects are closely monitored, and grants are withdrawn on project milestone basis.
BIH STARTUP “MOHIRI” WINS SEEDSTARS LOCAL PITCH COMPETITION
Botswana Innovation Hub Hosted Seedstars Local Pitch Competition in collaboration with Seedstars World, Stanbic Bank & The Udugu Institute. BIH client company, Mohiri was named “Best Startup in Botswana” in the local round of Seedstars World and represented the country at the Seedstars Summit in South Africa on December 12th, 2019.
Mohiri; A personalized job alerts service that connect low-medium skilled workers to opportunities for work by sending them alerts on their phones whenever there is a vacancy that matches their profile. “It’s been pretty a good year for us at Mohiri as we continue on our journey of building Southern Africa’s largest job alert services. Participating at Seedstarts is a good sign that technology startups in Botswana are beginning to compete globally”, Thato Kasongo.
Mohiri participated in an extensive training program, with the opportunity to connect with other 65+ winners from other fast-growing economies, as well as investors and mentors from around the world.
Seedstars is an exclusive global network that aims to discover/build the best seed-stage startups in emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes. The objective is to promote entrepreneurship and invest in startups across the world. The Seedstars World Summit brings together 1200+ tech heads from over 75 countries to connect with entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, media, corporates, investors and government officials.
For more information on Seedstars, visit https://www.seedstarsworld.com/