SingularityU South Africa late on Wednesday announced Nick Walker as the winner of the first Global Impact Competition (GIC) in South Africa for his work on creating a stem cell bank for curing HIV/AIDS. Nick is currently an innovation scientist for Next Biosciences.
Rand Merchant Bank was the primary sponsor of the South African GIC, launched in February 2016, and as such enables Nick to attend Singularity University’s 10-week Global Solutions Program (GSP) in Silicon Valley later this year. On returning to South Africa after the GSP, Nick will have the opportunity to develop his project, supported by the SingularityU global alumni network.
The SingularityU South Africa GIC was open to applicants throughout South Africa, with a focus on the global challenges of learning, energy, environment, food, health, prosperity, security, water, space, disaster resilience and governance.
Congratulations to the other finalists in the top five, who will have access to the Business Accelerator programme offered by First National Bank, the retail and commercial franchise of FirstRand Limited, which will provide business support and individual guidance for three months. The individuals and their projects are, in no specific order:
- Bernelle Verster – Smart Wetlands
- Neo Hutiri – Technovera
- Pieter Botes – I’m not Plastic
- Wolfgang von Loeper – MySmartFarm
The winners were selected from 48 entries and judged by: former FirstRand chief executive and entrepreneur Paul Harris; RMB chief executive James Formby; Investec equity partner Anisha Gordhan; medical doctor and Infinitum Humanitarian Systems chief executive Eric Rasmussen; RMB Holdings and Rand Merchant Investment Holdings chief executive Herman Bosman; SingularityU GIC manager Regina Njima; and WEDI International executive chair Sharron McPherson.
“The winners of the SingularityU South Africa competition all have two common attributes, both of which are major components of RMB’s culture: innovative thinking and entrepreneurship,” says RMB chief executive James Formby. “One of the reasons we chose to sponsor the competition was to encourage new ideas and technologies which, ultimately, could help to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. There is great need for smart thinking in South Africa and this is a great platform to expose it while also enabling people to develop and deliver these worthy initiatives.”
Singularity University (SU) is a benefit corporation whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s greatest challenges. “We created the GICs worldwide to create a Silicon Valley-like culture and reality in every country around the world,” says SU co-founder Ray Kurzweil. “Silicon Valley has become a metaphor for the ability of individuals and small groups to transform major industries and ideas to make the world a better place.”
Singularity University has successfully launched GICs in scores of countries since the programme began in 2010, to help drive solutions for local and global challenges. These competitions act as a platform to identify outstanding local entrepreneurs, leaders in science, engineering and business with the most innovative ideas for positively impacting millions of lives, both locally and globally through the use of technology. In 2016, SingularityU with local partners, launched 16 GICs around the world.