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Rand Merchant Bank partners with Singularity University

Singularity University, a benefit corporation whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s greatest challenges, has announced a new partnership with Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, to launch the SingularityU South Africa Global Impact Competition (GIC).

Singularity University has successfully launched GICs in many countries around the world. These competitions act as a platform to identify outstanding local entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists and engineers with the most innovative ideas for positively impacting millions of lives, both locally and globally through the use of technology.

The SingularityU South Africa GIC will be open to applicants throughout South Africa, with the competition focused on the following global grand challenge areas: learning, energy, environment, food, health, prosperity, security, water, space, disaster resilience and governance. Applicants are challenged to come up with an idea or project that uses technology to solve a global grand challenge. The winner of the competition, who will be selected on 6 April, will be invited to participate in the Summer 2016 Singularity University Global Solutions Program (GSP) in Silicon Valley. On returning to South Africa, the participant will have the opportunity to develop the project, supported by the SingularityU global alumni network. The 2nd – 5th place finalists will benefit from the competition by having access to the First National Bank (the retail arm of FirstRand Bank Limited) Business Accelerator programme, which will provide business support and individual guidance for 3 months.

“RMB’s partnership with the SingularityU South Africa GIC forms part of our ongoing drive to promote innovative thinking and entrepreneurship, two things which have always been major components of our culture,” says RMB chief executive James Formby. “The pace of change in today’s business environment is accelerating, requiring companies to constantly seek new ways of doing things and adopt exponential and disruptive technologies. We believe this competition will encourage the development of new ideas and technologies which is not only good for business, but will also play a role in addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

The SingularityU South Africa GIC jury will consist of representatives from Singularity University and RMB, as well as individuals from the worlds of innovation, entrepreneurship and academia. The mission of these individuals and organisations will be to encourage and inspire the candidates in the development of new ideas, on which they can choose to capitalise at the end of the competition.

Says Rob Nail, Singularity University chief executive: “Through partnerships, like the one with RMB, we are able to make the GIC in South Africa a reality. By holding a South African GIC we can identify a diverse and talented group of innovators in the country who will attend the 10-week programme at Singularity University where we can provide a broad, cross-disciplinary understanding of disruptive technologies and empower them with the tools, knowledge, skills and mind-set needed to deliver real humanitarian impact at multiple levels.”

Michael Fichardt, head of SingularityU Johannesburg Chapter, organiser of the GIC in South Africa and Singularity University 2015 GSP graduate, agrees that the new partnership between South Africa and Singularity University lays a foundation for expanding a collaborative technology network throughout Africa. “The world is going through a period of remarkable change; the exponential changes seen in technology provide us with the means to tackle and solve many of humanity’s greatest challenges. This collaboration with RMB will help to inspire and create a better future for all.”

Applications open on 8 February and close on 15 March 2016.

Singularity University

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