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South African startups helping to solve the global challenges

A new generation of entrepreneurs are not only incubating solid startups but are contributing to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges

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South African entrepreneurs are known for many things: optimism in the face of adversity, thrifty creativity, the ability to pivot when circumstances change, and above all, their tremendous resilience.

Across the startup landscape, one finds these nimble thinkers who defy the odds. Now, a new generation of entrepreneurs are not only incubating solid startups but are contributing to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Hypernova Space Technologies

If you thought South Africa was not contributing to space exploration, think again. Cape Town-based Hypernova Space Technologies builds cutting-edge electric propulsion for small satellites. Their plasma thrusters are based on over a decade of research and development in vacuum arc thruster technology.

Founded by Jonathan Lun, who won a SingularityU research grant a few years ago, the company pioneered the world’s only commercial electric propulsion designed for in-situ resource utilization, that will see its first flight to space in 2022.

Hypernova’s breakthrough technology uses resources that are found in abundance throughout our solar system as fuel with the result that the company is now recognized by some of the space industry’s most forward-thinking players.

Resolute Robotics

The world is moving forward, and now more than ever we need to give future generations every opportunity to leverage the power of modern technology and thrive in the digital age.

Startup company Resolute Robotics has made it their mission to do exactly that. Students in schools (grades 1-12) and tertiary institutions can now complete their courses as part of their school curriculum, or as an extra mural, via their online academy.

They’ll get taught critical thinking, creative thinking, complex problem-solving skills and coordination with peers, as well as the three essential pillars of technology—engineering, data sciences, and computer sciences.

In this way, youth can get the foundation they need to pursue a career in coding and robotics.

DataProphet

While the world is becoming familiar with artificial intelligence in business, one South African startup is embracing the opportunity that this has for business.

DataProphet specializes in optimizing the complex manufacturing processes of key industrial verticals with state-of-the-art machine learning. Their AI-driven solutions leverage the existing data streams from your plant’s production line equipment to identify process efficiencies.

The startup identified the opportunity that high-impact adjustments can make and guarantee ROI in the first year of deployment. Their AI-driven prescriptions aim to help clients improve quality targets, reduce scrap and defects, and achieve manufacturing process optimization – ahead of real-time.

Longiveme

Addressing a more health-related challenge, aging is a phenomenon that humans grapple with every day on physical, aesthetic, mental, and emotional levels.

One South African doctor, Johannesburg-based Tamara Pheiffer, has realized that the solutions lie in unconventional thinking. She built her practice Longiveme to offer patients treatment based on precision medicine and biohacking.

Furthermore, this business is unlocking the potential of genetic testing to offer patients custom wellness solutions.

2021 SingularityU South Africa Summit

Leaders and founders from these companies will be speaking at the prestigious upcoming SingularityU South Africa Summit taking place online from 12 – 15 October 2021, where you can learn from their insights and expertise via various keynote talks, workshops, and discussion panels alongside global thought leaders.

Click here for more information or to book.

Read more: Innovation Edge calls for pitches for SA ventures focused on positive parenting by fathers

Read more: Kenyan tech startup secures $475 000

Featured image: Lagos Techie via Unsplash

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/08/south-african-startups-helping-to-solve-the-global-challenges/

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Startup partners with Telkom to launch translation platform for SA languages

Telkom has partnered with SA startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

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Telkom has partnered with South African startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

The platform, called izwe.ai, was unveiled at the AI Expo Africa 2021. It is described as “a multi-lingual technology platform that transforms your audio and video data to text, captions or subtitles in your local languages”.

Telkom and Enlabeler collaborated to create the platform, with the aim of providing a way to bridge the language gap in a variety of industries.

“With Enlabeler, we have built a solution that can offer a seamless transcription experience with highly localised and reliable outputs, which help us deliver as a strategic partner for our clients,” Telkom Executive of Data Science Stefan Steffen said in a statement.

“Working with an agile startup like Enlabeler has helped us accelerate our long-term plans to unlock this market segment. ”

Enlabeler

Enlabeler is a data labelling and annotation solutions provider.

Founded in 2019, the company describes itself as Africa’s first remote data labelling community. It employs people around the country to augment and train the AI solutions and services provided by the company.

The company provides video and image annotation services, computer vision and object detection models, entity extraction from text datasets, as well as translation and transcription services.

The izwe.ai translation platform

According to Telkom, the izwe.ai platform has a unique ability to interpret South African accents. It also uses machine learning to constantly improve its translations.

The aim of the platform is to provide transcription and translation across a range of industries. These include education, academia, legal services, and media production.

“This technology can be a game-changer in business, as well as education, government, and healthcare delivery,” Telkom head of Innovation Dr Mmaki Jantjies said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Telkom Foundation CEO Sarah Mthintso highlighted the education benefits of the service.

“STEM subjects are the foundation for the careers of the future, but to truly drive digital transformation in South Africa, we need learners to be able to learn in their home language,” Mthintso said in a statement.

“That’s where AI-driven speech services are so important.”

Translation and transcription service launch

The service will be launched in a phased approach. The first phase includes the launch of izwe.ai and the collection of information from potential clients via survey.

The service is offering five hours of free machine transcription in exchange for the completion of the survey.

The second phase will include the release of the machine transcription model.

“In release 2 you will have access to a market-leading machine transcription model to transcribe your files with a click of a button,” the service says on its website.

The third phase will include the implementation of human input into automatic transcription outputs. Finally, phase four will include the launch of additional services.

You can find out more about the platform on the izwe.ai website.

Feature image: Ventureburn

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Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/09/startup-partners-with-telkom-to-launch-translation-platform-for-sa-languages/

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Naspers invests R120 million in Joburg-based insurtech startup Naked

Naspers has announced it has invested R120 million in Johannesburg-based insurtech startup Naked in a Series A funding round.

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Naspers has announced it has invested R120 million in Johannesburg-based insurtech startup Naked in a Series A funding round.

Announced on 4 August, the multinational company made the investment through its early-stage tech investment vehicle, Naspers Foundry.

The investment is the foundry’s second insurtech investment in the last month.

Launched in 2018, Naked is an AI-drive insurance app that provides users with coverage for their homes and cars.

It is also the foundry’s biggest investment to date.

The funding round raised R160 million in total with the balance contributed by other investors such as Yellowwoods and Hollard.

“We’re excited to support Naked in their journey of pioneering a new generation of insurance, giving consumers access to convenience, control, and savings with its end-to-end digital processes,” Naspers Foundry CEO, Fabian White, said in a statement.

“This fits in with our focus of backing purpose-driven technology businesses.”

In April, the foundry announced it had invested R34 million in local insurance advice app, Ctrl. It said it is committed to investing a total of R1.4 billion in South Africa’s early-stage tech ecosystem.

Naspers investment to help Naked reinvent insurance

Launched in 2018, Naked is an AI-drive insurance app that provides users with easy-access coverage.

Through the mobile and web apps, users can immediately receive a quote for their place of residence, its contents, and standalone items such as cars in a short amount of time.

The app also lets them switch and pause their coverage without having to engage with call agents.

“Our ambition is to build insurance that people love by offering an experience that is affordable, convenient, and transparent,” Naked Co-Founder, Alex Thomson said.

“We are excited to have an investor of Naspers Foundry’s calibre onboard to work with us as we expand our team, continue to invest in the technology that puts customers in control, meet the insurance needs of a growing portion of the SA market and enter into international markets.”

Read more: Catalyst Fund names Inclusive Fintech startups, three from Africa

Read more: SA agritech Khula! launches app after closing R20m funding round

Featured image: Luis Villasmil via Unsplash

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/08/naspers-invests-r120-million-in-joburg-based-insurtech-startup-naked/

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ZwartTech launches Talent Foundation to equip Africans with digital skills

Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement on 30 July 2021.

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Lagos-based ZwartTech has announced the launch of its new edtech, Zwart Talent Foundation (ZTF) in a statement today.

The foundation aims to equip young Africans with ICT skills necessary to close the growing African skills gap. The project has also set aside 70% of recruitment positions for African women.

87% of African CEOs are concerned about the digital skills gap

According to a report by PwC, featured in 2020’s Digital Skills Insights publication, 79% of global CEOs are worried about the availability of digital skills in their workforces, with 87% of African CEOs sharing the same concern.

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

ZTF’s three-pronged approach to tackling this skills gap means participants are led through the process from initial skills training to launching successful, sustainable careers.

The foundation aims to equip 2 000 Africans with critical ICT skills and recruit them into global companies over the next five years.

The Zwart Academy

Participants are first trained through the Zwart Academy in cybersecurity and Javascript for six months at no cost, giving them the necessary foundation to complete a one-year internship with Zwart Tech on completion.

“We have also realised that the quality of ICT education in Africa is inadequate. Considering this, students who join the Foundation will become Junior Developers in less than three years compared to attending a university and spending four or five years on the same course,” stated Ajulo.

Zwart Recruit

Zwart Recruit aims to support African ICT developers by connecting them with international companies looking for employees specialising in digital skills.

The Zwart Hub

The Hub is an accelerator programme that takes startups from concept to scaling their business on a global scale through mentorship and support from successful, experienced startup owners and investors.

While the global skills gap is worrying, considering automation may render many digital jobs obsolete in the near future, ZTF’s approach is different, according to Ajulo.

“Our approach is not only innovative, but it also saves time and will help tackle inequality faster, bridging gaps between social classes. The Academy training program involves a lot of practicals and it is free,” she concluded.

Read more: Edtech Go1 is SA’s first unicorn after closing $200m round

Read more: Transforming B2B payments could grow Africa’s local businesses [Opinion]

Featured image: Zwart Talent Foundation Chairman, Nelson Tosin Ajulo (Supplied)

“We launched the Zwart Talent Foundation to help Africans quickly combat poverty by giving them the chance to acquire tech skills as well as connecting them to international job opportunities. This will enable them to earn more and boost their economic status,” commented Nelson Tosin Ajulo, Chairman of ZTF in a statement.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/07/zwarttech-launches-talent-foundation-to-equip-africans-with-digital-skills/

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