Counting Down – 46 Days to the Start of the Last Desert Race in Antarctica

SA Innovation Summit, renewable energy and a run in Cape Town…

16 September 2014

Greetings from Cape Town.

The 7th SA Innovation Summit started this morning at the Cape Town Stadium. It is my first time at the event and also my first visit inside the iconic stadium which was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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This annual event raises awareness about innovation and contributes to building a national system of innovation in South Africa. It brings together thought leaders and practitioners in the field of innovation to show-case success stories, demonstrate new innovations, share lessons learnt and connect with peers. The theme of the 2014 event is “Local Innovation, Global Conversation”.

I’m attending the event in my capacity as Vice-President: Africa at TechSoup Global, looking for new innovative ideas and opportunities to support the work of non-profit organisations in Africa and beyond.

I spend most of the day at “The Pitching Den” where various entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, etc. “pitched” their ideas and innovations to a panel of judges and the audience in general. “Pitchers” compete for a case prize of R25 000 and various other incentives and forms of support (e.g. legal assistance with intellectual property issues, etc.), while it is also an opportunity to attract funding and support from potential investors.

In addition to the rich and diverse range of ideas which were presented, I was pleasantly surprised by the underlying “social and environmental consciousness” which inform the design and implementation of many of these ideas. Various “pitchers” referenced concerns about carbon emission levels, the need to reduce our carbon footprint, or a focus on renewable and clean energy, as guiding principles for their work. At the same time, many of the ideas and projects which were presented are focusing on environmental friendly and renewable energy issues such as wind energy, wave powered water pumps, wave energy converters, solar water heating, combining wind and solar for energy generation, etc.

These are all very encouraging developments in support of changing energy generation and consumption patterns in South Africa, encouraging new approaches to design and innovation, and nurturing a new generation of people interested in renewable energy and clean technology.

Ultimately, these developments are also aligned with the efforts of Greenpeace Africa in campaigning for a shift to renewable energy which will ensure that all South Africans can access affordable electricity while contributing to the democratisation of energy production.

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Following a day at the conference, it was time for a nice 16km run from Sea Point to Camps Bay and back.

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I’m excited about the race in Antarctica and the challenge of raising R250 000 for Greenpeace Africa, and encourage you to support my efforts and the work of Greenpeace Africa!

Please make a donation and encourage others to do the same.

“Together we can make a difference!”

Follow updates about my preparations for The Last Desert Race, and work with Greenpeace Africa, on Facebook and Twitter, my daily blog, and via Greenpeace Africa’s  various online platforms.

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About David Barnard

This blog site covers my runs through the deserts of the world in support of social causes and campaigns dedicated to development issues in Africa. My next run is the 250km Big Red Run in Australia from 24-29 June 2017 in support of the Hippo Water Roller.
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