Around 60 participants and 23 teams from across KwaZulu-Natal competed in this year’s Youth Innovation Challenge (YIC). The competition is a flagship programme of Innovate Durban, a non-profit company set up as a special purpose vehicle to promote innovation.
It is supported by eThekwini Municipality through the Economic Development Unit.
The YIC kicked off in September with a thrilling weeklong workshop supported by Sustainable Development Goals champions and industry experts. This was followed by teams working on their solutions to innovation challenges and finetuning their pitches.
The final awards took place at the Durban Botanical Gardens Edu Centre on 10 November. Muzi Mhlongo and Phumla Mnguni of team Ubuntu Fibre emerged the winners for developing an eco-friendly alternative to feminine sanitary wear. Second place was awarded to Nitasha Pillay, Jirah Moodley, and Nathan Pillay of team Tagged AI from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The students developed a solution to promote child safety and prevent human trafficking using Near Field Communication technology.
Team Green Corridors which includes Sphesihle Msomi, Mandisa Dlamini, and Aseza Sibutha, were awarded third place for the solution they developed which is a public transport app to promote safe use of public transport for locals and tourists.
The teams were awarded R35 000, R25 000, and R15 000 respectively. They will also join the Innovate Durban StartUp Support Programme to develop their solutions further. Pillay from Tagged AI also received the Zutari Women in Design Award for her “rate of engagement, enthusiasm, enquiring mind and positive attitude as well as continued engagement on platforms.”
Green Corridors clenched the Zutari Student Excellence Award for ‘Courage in Adversity’ for epitomising the journey of the YIC in which they had displayed exponential growth during the competition from the first pitch to the final presentation and technical solution.