MTN Solution Space to boost innovation in Africa

Solution_Space-Overview-1The MTN Group and the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) have announced a major new partnership to boost sustainable innovation in Africa. MTN will invest R15 million over the next three years in the MTN Solution Space, an innovation hub at the UCT GSB.

The collaboration will combine the action-learning and research strengths of the UCT GSB with MTN’s technological expertise and resources to create, amongst others, mobile apps and programmes for educational, medical and economic empowerment, as well as to promote entrepreneurship and small business growth.

“Each partner has complementary expertise and skills, so together, their impact on African innovation will be greater, and the solutions emerging as a result of their collaboration will reach further,” said professor Walter Baets, director of the UCT GSB.

The MTN Solution Space has already had successes in helping start-ups gain a foothold in the business world. It is home to social innovators like former UCT GSB MPhil student Francois Petousis who founded Lumkani, a proactive, early-warning fire detection system designed for shack dwellers. The concept won the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) and scooped second place in two separate categories at South Africa’s innovation summit.

Sarah-Anne Arnold, manager of the MTN Solution Space said the partnership represents a truly symbiotic and purposeful venture into the future.

“MTN already has an extensive footprint in Africa and the GSB has a strong representation of African students at the business school, combined with a reputation for research and academic excellence. So we are combining our strengths for a common purpose – finding solutions to the biggest challenges facing our continent,” she said.

Professor Baets said partnerships like these enable real innovation that can make a difference to communities, adding value on many different levels, while helping to establish new ventures that contribute to economic growth. He said as a founding sponsor of the MTN Solution Space, MTN understands that innovation is essential for achieving competitive advantage in today’s high-pressure business environment.

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