On Thursday 15th of June 2023, a successful pitching event with university students from the field of engineering from South Africa took place at ARIS premises, hosted by Deloitte’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (IEC).
The event was organized in the context of the EURYDICE project, in which Deloitte participates as a partner. The EURYDICE project aims to increase students’ employability in the field of renewable energies, based on closer collaboration between university and industry and seeks to address the lack of practical experience that can be found on all the layers of the education system in South Africa: vocational training, diploma studies, bachelor and master’s degrees as well as doctoral studies. The project is co-funded by the EU under the Erasmus+ Programme and is a transnational collaboration between six partners including Deloitte Limited (Cyprus), Ulm University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Budapest University of Technology (Hungary), University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (Austria), Durban University of Technology (South Africa), Central University of Technology (South Africa) and Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa).
In the framework of the project, a tailored made fast-track virtual acceleration program for graduate students of the three Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in South Africa was designed and implemented aiming to integrate students in the business spectrum, providing them with the opportunity to pursue innovative ideas and transform them into a proof of concept/ prototype.
The top three start-up student teams had the chance to travel to Cyprus and present their innovative solutions during the event, as follows:
- Thinkelectric, represented by Mcebisi Ngobese. Thinkeletric provides a solar powered security system with IoT.
- SBA Renewable Energy Techs, represented by Aphiwe Sogiba, Siphamandla Mtelekiso and Bongani Tshabalala. Their solution provides a wastewater treatment model trough the use of their solar powered chlorinator system.
- JUSI ENERGY SOLUTIONS, represented by Siphiwe Mkhwanazi and Junia Lemphane. Their idea is using the hybrid energy system that incorporates solar, hydro energy and biogas to power the energy needed for the wastewater sanitation process.
The event kicked-off with opening remarks by Eliza Loucaidou, Director at Deloitte’s IEC & ARIS A Really Inspiring Space, who also provided a brief overview of the activities implemented at the IEC and ARIS acceleration programme. Dr. Marc-Oliver Otto, Project Coordinator and Dean at the Technische Hochschule Ulm University of Applied Sciences, provided key information on the Eurydice project scope and objectives and the activities implemented so far.
The event continued with an insightful presentation by Dr. Byron Ioannou, Head of the Department of Architecture, School of Engineering at Frederick University on “Building environment and sustainable energy research at Frederick University”. An interesting discussion among the participants of the event took place afterwards, on relevant gaps within the energy sector where innovations could provide new solutions to existing problems.
The attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about the acceleration program implemented in the context of the project by Anthi Chatzikyriakou, Assistant Manager at Deloitte’s IEC, and Monica Tsartsali, Consultant at Deloitte’s IEC, who provided an overview of the program and its outcomes, before giving the floor to the three student teams from South Africa to pitch and present their innovative solutions.
Lastly, presentations by ARIS network of start-ups were held:
- Presentation by IQ3SOLAR, a resident start-up at ARIS represented by Dr. Charalambos Anastassiou; IQ3SOLAR provides an intelligent platform to give photovoltaic (PV) system operators information about the health-state condition of PV assets and insights on how to optimize PV parks performance and field operation and maintenance (O&M) activities.
- Presentation by Aqualoop, represented by Dr. Matthew Norton. His presentation focused on Aqualoop’s road to commercialization highlighting the difficulties in product and market development. Aqualoop provides a hot water control system in place of a traditional switch, which informs its users on how much hot water they have.
All in all the event was a great opportunity for the SA students to connect with people from the industry and other start-ups and gain valuable insights and transfer of knowledge in developing their own businesses.