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Number Boost takes top innovation spot

Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game.

Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game.

Number Boost has won the South African leg of the NTT Open Innovation Contest.

Hosted by Dimension Data and NTT Data, in conjunction with Silicon Cape, the competition was held in Cape Town this year for the first time and recognises start-ups that work on solutions that aim to address the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

"We are very proud to have won such a prestigious contest and look forward to the opportunity that this will present to develop the business further," said Alex Conway, founder of Number Boost, a Cape-based data science studio that builds custom artificial intelligence solutions.

Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game as the ninth Open Innovation Contest kicked off on Friday. Setting the scene for a morning of business pitches, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris described Cape Town as South Africa's "new economic hub" and the perfect entry point to the rest of the African continent.

Tech is creating what one might call the ‘convergence economy', bringing together some of the Western Cape's biggest sectors – manufacturing, services and agriculture – to create new and innovative business opportunities, he explained.

Kotaro Zamma, head of Open Innovation at NTT Data, noted the spirit of the contest is not just to hand money out to the most promising businesses. "This is not because we are stingy. But rather because we want to work with and develop new businesses."

The ultimate winner of the global competition will secure a three-month mentorship with NTT Data; an opportunity that is likely to result in further collaboration going forward.

The eight local businesses that were competing for a spot at the global final of the competition, taking place in Tokyo in March, include:

Sensor Networks: This Cape Town-based start-up uses Internet of things sensors to help insurance companies and customers manage home-based risks.

Alvarita: A compact device that tests nitrate levels in everything from fruits and vegetables to water.

Ecoslips: A business launched in an effort to convert paper receipts into digital slips that are sent straight to the purchaser's cellphone.

Zumbudda: A platform that allows patients to chat to healthcare professionals in real-time, online.

Number Boost: This small business uses CCTV monitoring and deep learning to minimise customer friction in a variety of settings.

Hairwego: A mobile application that uses machine learning algorithms to connect users with hair care professionals based on their unique preferences.

New Economic Model: A supply and demand-based economic model that aims to address societal challenges.

ThinkBrainwave: A solution that disrupts the education system via user-generated content tutor management backed by artificial intelligence and deep learning.

"As a responsible corporate citizen, we are very proud to be part of accelerating the ambitions of individuals and to be investing in South Africa's economy through initiatives such as the NTT Open Innovation Contest," concluded Dimension Data's CEO for Middle East and Africa, Grant Bodley.

"We wish Number Boost all the best in competing with the other regional winners in Tokyo."


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