Innovate UK EDGE Global Young Innovators Programme 2021 for Young South Africans

Global Young Innovators Programme 2021 for South Africans


Deadline: 7.00pm (SA), Tuesday 12 January 2021

Innovate UK EDGE Global Young Innovators Programme 2021 for South Africans

The Global Young Innovators Programme offers 60 forward-thinking, entrepreneurial minds from across South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK), a platform to join forces, ignite ideas and co-design solutions that can help solve some of the greatest challenges facing our global community.

Providing mentorship, industry leading training and the chance to pitch for one of 15 R200,000 funding grants, this bespoke 3 to 9-month programme is designed to connect and equip you with the resources needed to bridge the gap, and transform your idea into a viable business.

We are now calling South African young innovators (aged 18-30) willing to rise to the challenge and collaborate with inspirational, like-minded entrepreneurs in the UK to form ground-breaking projects and be a force for positive change.

We believe world-changing ideas can come from anyone, anywhere.
If you have a solution (big or small), we want to hear it.

What Are The Five Global Challenges? 

We are tasking our young innovators to generate innovative ideas to help address these five challenges in South Africa, with the potential to take that solution to a global scale.

LOW CARBON – Solutions that can move South Africa towards a low-carbon economy.

EDUCATION – Products and services which can improve education and training – make it fairer, more inclusive, accessible and equitable.

INFRASTRUCTURE – Innovations to support the sustainable expansion of cities, rural communities and infrastructure.

URBAN AND RURAL COMMUNITIES – Solutions which can create a positive impact on urban and rural communities, transforming them in sustainable ways whilst working to maintain their heritage and cultural access.

QUALITY HEALTH – Innovative ideas to improve the quality of healthcare provision, whether it’s directly medical or healthcare equipment that is more sustainable, sanitary and/or efficient.

How does Global Young Innovators Programme 2021

Phase 1 on 18 January – 19 March 2021:
60 Young Innovators selected, 30 from South Africa and 30 in the UK.

Five-Day Virtual Bootcamp  

Spark innovative ideas, find collaborators and unleash your entrepreneurial thinking during this intensive Bootcamp. Supported by global challenge thought-leaders, you’ll leave with new ideas to explore and team up with a UK innovator to build your cooperative project.

Global Peer-to-Peer Collaboration

Peer learning and collaboration between the young people of South Africa and UK is a cornerstone to help tackle global challenges, make a big impact on South Africa’s future and realise new ideas for positive global change.

Collaborate and partner up with like-minded innovators from the UK. After the Bootcamp, you’ll work in pairs on a weekly basis to turn your idea/project into an actionable plan, business plan and Seed Funding Grant application. Work together on your project, find solutions, broaden your understanding of global challenges and bring your ideas to market.


Your highly experienced Innovation Champion and Mentor will support your joint project every step of the way. Providing crucial pre-start-up and early-stage business support, from developing a credible business plan, business modelling, market analysis, financial planning to sales.

Fast-Track Innovation Webinars

Discover a proven 6 stage framework to launch new innovative products or services, with step-by-step guidance from leading innovation experts. Designed to equip young entrepreneurs with go-to-market know-how, this webinar series will share strategies to validate your product/market fit with real customers.

Five-Day Pitch & Seed Funding Bootcamp

Attend comprehensive training on day 1 and 2, designed to get you pitch-ready. We’ll help you build a clear, compelling and credible pitch to articulate your value proposition/idea to attract buyers, partners and investors. Gain the tools needed to deliver an elevator pitch, 7-minute pitch and slide deck, with peer-to-peer and real-world investor feedback.

On day 4 and 5, pitch your joint project for seed funding to a 5 Global Challenges Sustainable Development panel of judges.

Phase 2 on March 19 – 30 September 2021:
15 projects 
selected from joint collaborations between 30 Young Innovators.

Access Grant Funding

Up to 15 projects generated by 30 Young Innovators will receive an average of R200,000 in grant funding, announced on the final day of the Pitch & Seed Funding Bootcamp.

Support to start-up and grow

Over 6-months, work closely with your Mentor and project partner to effectively invest the funding and develop your idea into a viable start-up business. Your Mentor will share practical business advice, make networking introductions and help you access additional resources, support & funding.

South Africa Field Visit

Pending COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, the seed-funding award-holders will have the opportunity to explore their project impact further, meet their UK collaboration partner and fellow young innovators with a site visit in South Africa.

Who should apply for Global Young Innovators Programme 2021

  • South African entrepreneurs, leaders and founders, aged 18-30 years
  • With an innovative idea or early-stage solution to address one of the five global challenges
  • Eager to collaborate with a UK Young Innovator on a joint project
  • Have access to a stable broadband and internet connection

Applicants must be willing to commit to:

  • Attend all key programme dates (see below)
  • Fully engage with the programme’s package of support, including leveraging their project mentor
  • Work collaboratively with other South African and UK innovators
  • Share their journey and build their profile as a role model through participation in case studies, blogs, video content and PR activity.

What is the cost of the programme? 

The Global Young Innovators Programme is free of charge.

Global Young Innovators Programme 2021 key Programme Dates? 

 Applications now open 

Tuesday, 09 December  Programme Launch Webinar – Watch here.
Tuesday, 12 January
 Applications close at 7.00pm (SA sharp) 
Monday, 18 January
 Successful applicants informed and appointed

Global Young Innovators Programme 2021* 
Monday, 25 – Friday 29 January
 Five-day Virtual Bootcamp
Thursday, 11 February
 Innovation Webinars Serie, Stage #1 and #2
Thursday, 25 February
 Innovation Webinars Serie, Stage #3 and #4
Thursday, 11 March
 Innovation Webinars Serie, Stage #5 and #6
Monday, 15 – Friday, 19 March
 Five-day Pitch & Seed Funding Virtual Bootcamp
Friday, 19 March  15 Seed funding project/recipients announced
During March – September Grant recipients develop start-up idea with ongoing support from dedicated Mentor
South African Field Visit (pending COVID-19 restrictions)
 The Programme ends 30 September 2021

*You must be available to attend all programme dates to be accepted onto the programme

How will the young innovators be selected?

The highly competitive selection process will work across five core stages:

Stage 1: Week of 11 January
Submitted applications will be reviewed to assess eligibility and suitability for the programme.

Stage 2: The shortlisted young innovators will be reviewed by a panel of expert judges, who will score each application, based on your written responses and video pitch.

Stage 3: Monday, 18 January
30 South African and 30 UK Young Innovators will be selected to complete the first 3-month phase of the programme.

Stage 4: Thursday 18 – Friday, 19 March
Each pair of Young Innovators will pitch their project to a panel of judges for grant funding.

Stage 5: Friday, 19 March
The 15 joint projects (generated by 30 Young Innovators) will be announced and awarded grant funding, with 6-months of tailored programme support to build, develop and grow their start-up/early-stage idea.

Please note: Due to the high volume of applications, we will not be sharing the panel’s feedback on individual applications. 

How do I apply?

Only 30 young entrepreneurs from across the South Africa will be selected.

To submit your application for the Young Innovators Programme, please click the ‘Apply here‘ button at the end of this page and complete the required form.

We strongly advise you not to leave your submission to the last minute. You will be required to prepare a 3-minute pitch video, provide details about your business, idea, value proposition, funding timeline and more – please carefully review the questions beforehand, noting additional questions may be triggered depending on your application responses.

For more Information: Visit the webpage for Innovate UK EDGE Global Young Innovators Programme 2021 for Young South Africans

About Israel Wellington Jeremiah

Israel Wellington Jeremiah is the Admin and publisher at Empowerment Opportunities. A seasoned online publicist and an entrepreneur.

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