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20 Weeks, 1 Challenge, 1000’s of Upstarts, A whole new university experience!

A world first launched at UCT on Monday 16th February 2015, at 1pm (Molly Blackburn Hall), where ‘UCT Upstarts’ took centre stage.

UCT Upstarts is the Vice-Chancellor’s Social Innovation Challenge and is a joint-initiative between the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Super Stage.

Fuelled by the aspirations of our infant democracy and the fact that we can’t rely solely on government to solve all of South Africa’s challenges, Gina Levy, founder of Super Stage (a social innovation platform for students), first approached UCT’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price and Dr Francois Bonnici, Founding Director of The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation (based at the Graduate School of Business) in 2013 with a vision to create an Epicentre of Innovation on campus. The idea behind this was to develop a new student culture – one that supports an innovation mindset that starts to produce a generation of BOTH graduates AND entrepreneurs. In other words, a parallel university experience that encourages the collective talent and energy of the student public to become active agents of change, who solve real-world problems from campus, and launch a start-up reality beyond it.

The timing was perfect, because Dr Bonnici, had also approached Dr Price with the idea to create a Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge. And so with Dr Price’s blessing and his desire to make UCT Africa’s innovation capital, UCT Upstarts was born.

“UCT Upstarts speaks directly to our desire to inspire and challenge individuals, organisations, and systems to question what is, reimagine what can be, and to get behind and deliver those solutions that have the potential to transform the world we live in. Transformative change requires us to breakdown paradigms, draw on different skill sets and work across disciplines hence we’re encouraging multi-disciplinary teams to create new solutions together”, says Dr Bonnici.

A 24/7 outdoor Pop-up Hub – made out of yellow crates (sponsored by MPACT PC)  – has been erected next to the famous Jammie Steps on Upper Campus for four weeks, and will be followed by an indoor ‘Pop-up Hub’ appropriately called ‘The Change Room’. These will become the Epicentres of Innovation – because it’s where the world comes to campus – and where students get to change the world.

Students are getting 20 weeks to solve the Vice Chancellor’s Social Innovation Challenge. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during lunchtime, they’ll get to experience the most inspiring, imaginative and interactive Pop-up classes, workshops and activations as part of a curated ‘Pop-up Social Innovation Curriculum’.

A hand-picked ‘Pro-Circuit’ of social innovators and coaches will share stories, demonstrate the impact of their own solutions, and guide multi-disciplinary student teams to develop their own breakthrough solutions to the 2015 challenge, “Imagine a New Africa”. These will be posted to Thundafund.com (SA’s leading crowd-funding platform), in the run up to the ‘Idea Auction’. This will be a live bidding platform where select movers-and-shakers will bid time, resources, equity, internships, travel opportunities, media exposure, and ‘moola’ to help launch UCT students into Super Stardom, and their revolutionary start-up ideas into action!

“UCT Upstarts is igniting a ‘Start-up Student Nation’ by mobilising a movement of Innovation-Activists, creating an Innovation Culture that literally does make South Africa work better, and driving an Innovation Economy that actually does create jobs – starting from campus! UCT Upstarts is going to put more South African role models on the map – so watch this space”, says Levy.

In a nutshell, UCT Upstarts is starting an uprising!

Sponsors and partners include, The Bertha Foundation, Mr Price, Google (Technology Innovation Sponsor), Red Bull Amaphiko, SAB Foundation, and more.

Useful links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UCTupstart
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UCTupstarts @UCTupstarts for trade and industry news
Email: media@upstarts.com 

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