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World Café brings new life to earth observation innovation

SA National Space Agency (SANSA) and Airbus Defence and Space held a World Café event at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria. The event was the culmination of an OpenIX open innovation challenge through which over two dozen small companies, entrepreneurs and scientists developed innovative technologies and applications using earth observation data.

These respondent organisations developed a range of solutions across various industries including forestry and agriculture, urban planning, insurance, and computer gaming. The aim of World Café was to directly assist the entrepreneurs in further commercialising their ideas by creating relationships between these entrepreneurs and representatives of almost 40 different client and investor groups. In total, 74 stakeholders from organisations including Hollard, Absa Capital, Eskom, Tom Tom and the South African Maritime Safety Authority were on hand to discuss the merits and opportunities presented by a select group of entrepreneurs.

The World Café approach allowed direct, conversational exchanges between parties, much in the same way 'speed dating' introduces individuals to each other. Organisers hoped to help empower and support new entrants to the earth observation industry in South Africa, bringing to life new innovations, new products and new companies that can create lasting change in society.

Open Innovation Challenge

The winners of the original OpenIX open innovation were also announced at the event. The main prize - site visits to Airbus Defence and Space’s operations in Toulouse, France as well as introductions to Airbus Defence and Space’s global organisation - was won by Drone Clouds, who provide farmers with data and insights about plant stress to increase crop yields.

Drone Clouds

All finalists, with solutions ranging from insurance for emerging farmers, and artisanal mining to data analytics are being considered for incubation with The Innovation Hub in Pretoria. The OpenIX open innovation challenge was hosted by The Innovation Hub, together with RIIS, an open innovation consultancy in South Africa.

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