Singularity University launches FIRST Global Impact Competition in South Africa

February 18, 2016

Mountain View, CA (February 18, 2016) – 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) in South Africa, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, to launch the first SingularityU South Africa Global Impact Competition (GIC).Singularity University has successfully launched GICs in scores of countries around the world over the last several years to help drive solutions for local and global challenges. These competitions act as a platform to identify outstanding local entrepreneurs, leaders in science, engineering and business with the most innovative ideas for positively impacting millions of lives, both locally and globallythrough the use oftechnology.The SingularityU South Africa GIC is open to applicants throughout South Africa, with the competition focused on the global grand challenge of 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 April 6, 2016, 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 program, which will provide business support and individual guidance for three months.“RMB’s partnership with the Singularity University for the South Africa GIC forms part of our ongoing drive to promote innovative thinking and entrepreneurship, two things that 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 vital role in addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges.”The SingularityU South Africa GIC judging panel 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 organizations 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 Officer and Associate Founder: “With RMB as a partner, we are able to expand our network into South Aftric and realize this Global Impact Competition for local entrepreneurs and innovators. Through this South African GIC partnership, we are able to identify a diverse and talented group of innovators in country who will be invited to attend our 10-week Global Solutions Program in Silicon Valley, where we can provide a broad, cross-disciplinary understanding of disruptive technologies. Participants are not just educated, but also empowered with the tools, knowledge, skills and mind-set needed to deliver real humanitarian impact at multiple levels, at home and eventually globally.”Michael Fichardt, head of SingularityU Johannesburg Chapter, organizer 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 opened February 8 and must be submitted by March 15, 2016.Applications platform link: in here: more information on applications contact:gic@singularity.orgABOUT SINGULARITY UNIVERSITYSingularity University (SU) is a California benefit corporation with a mission to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies towards solving humanity’s grand challenges. Together with a highly engaged alumni community in over 90 countries, SU is committed to creating positive and sustainable global impact via three core areas: education, innovation and community. Headquartered at NASA’s Research Park in the heart of Silicon Valley, it was founded in 2008 by Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis.For more information, visit: Join us on Facebook and Twitter @SingularityU.ABOUT The SingularityU Global Impact Competition(GIC)GIC is framed by challenging applicants to create innovations to critical social problems by leveraging technology. The winner with the most innovative project is sponsored to attend the 10-week Global Solutions Program (GSP). The overall competition process stimulates entrepreneurs and innovation ecosystems.ABOUT SingularityU Johannesburg ChapterSingularityU Johannesburg Chapter is a volunteer organization, run by SU alumni, that strives to build a community in South Africa. Membership and attendance of SingularityU Johannesburg Chapter events are open to all. Apart from the GIC, the SingularityU Johannesburg Chapter will be launching a SU Salon Series where thoughts leaders in technology will be invited to a monthly meetup events to be held alternative months in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Chapter is lead by Michael Fichardt is a graduate from SU’s 2015 GSP. Chile, a six-month business incubator in Chile. In February, Michael and his team embark on the next part of the adventure they started during the GSP.ABOUT Rand Merchant BankRand Merchant Bank (RMB), a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, is a leading African corporate and investment bank and part of one of the largest financial services groups in Africa. We offer our clients innovative, value-added advisory, funding, trading, corporate banking and principal investing solutions. As the corporate and investment banking arm of FirstRand Bank Limited (which is wholly-owned by FirstRand Limited), RMB has access to a network of retail banks in 25 African countries, as well as branches and representative offices in Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, the UK, India, China and the Middle East.Making the most of Africa as an investment destination requires specialist skills, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. We have funded several projects and advised on a number of mergers and acquisitions in more than 35 African countries over the past decade. We are one of the biggest market makers in the South African financial market. Our innovative hedging solutions protect our clients against: interest rate, currency, liquidity, commodity, equity and credit risks. Being in the business of corporate and investment banking, it’s not just the thought which counts, but the quality and inventiveness of the thinking. Our ability to think differently, as well as our collaborative spirit sets us apart and enables us to deliver on our brand promise Traditional values. Innovative ideas.PRESS CONTACTSSingularity University: Diane Murphy, Tel: +1 310 658 8756; diane@singularityu.orgRand Merchant Bank: Joandra Griesel, Tel: +27 11 282 1748;