Competition provides platform for innovation

Finalists of the Student Innovation Idea Competition run by CPUT and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Finalists of the Student Innovation Idea Competition run by CPUT and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), sponsored by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Toursim, recently hosted the Idea Create Student Innovation Competition awards ceremony – providing a platform for an influx of bright ideas by young entrepreneurs.

The ceremony, held at the Southern Tsogo Sun in Newlands, sought to recognise those participants with innovative ideas.

The students were joined by various stakeholders, including government, academic and private business representatives. They were hailed as agents of change in their respective fields.

Last year, students at the CPUT went about brainstorming, planning and creating ideas to present to a panel of judges who looked for originality, persistence and excellent presentation. The entries were judged on originality, educational, informative and sustainable inventions in the categories of technology and business.

Says CPUT’s technology promotions coordinator, Halimah Rabiu, “The aim of this competition is to unlock the students’ potential, improving their abilities and discovering their talents and creativity in technological projects or business ideas.”

The competition is in line with the department’s mandate to actively promote ideas with commercial value to help boost the economy at all levels. The students were invited to participate while still enrolled at the institution.

In the first competition in 2012, a total of 47 groups came forward with creative ideas, created from scratch. They were provided with entrepreneuship and business plan training where they were taught how to write and present their plans. A maximum of R12 000 was awarded to the top five student ideas, and R7 000 to the next six to allow them to develop their ideas.

Last year, the competition was “expanded and modified”, says Rabiu. Students were required to enter their projects, prototypes, engineering or industrial design or business solutions to an existing problem.

Rabiu says promoting the competition to students was also an “innovative” initiative.
Fortune cookie pamphlets, online invitations, DJ and MC music and on-the-spot prize-giving encouraged students to participate and served as a good marketing tool.

This caught the eye of eager students who study at the university’s various satelite branches, with many deciding to take part.

Following the competition’s successful first year, CPUT received about 40 entrants in 2013.

They were given free training in entrepreneurship, intellectual property management, pitching, marketing and branding skills at the institution’s two main campuses in Cape Town and Bellville.

Over 25 business ideas were selected and judged, with only 11 finalists selected for both business and prototype submissions.

“They will also receive mentorship and support and further assistance with intellectual property protection, up-scaling their prototypes and taking their products to the market,” says Rabiu.

She says entries for the 2014 competition will open in March.

CPUT seeks to raise awareness about the competition by making online calls via social networks, doing campus roadshows and the CPUT website.

CPUT, Halimah Rabiu, , , Southern Tsogo Sun, , Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Toursim

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