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New innovation challenge calls for big ideas to rebuild SA’s economy

Monday, 12 October 2020  
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The Craft and Design Institute (CDI), a non-profit company with 20 years of success in developing creative people, small businesses and the craft and design sector in South Africa, has announced the launch of RE:SOLVE Challenge. Funded by the City of Cape Town, RE:SOLVE is a fast paced four-month Design Thinking challenge to unlock the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of SA to rebuild our COVID-19 hit economy.


The RE:SOLVE Challenge invites SMEs, teams or individual entrepreneurs to co-create bold and innovative solutions with a focus on areas such as transport, hygiene, food security, education, medical care, retail and micro-enterprises. Entrants with the most viable solutions will have the opportunity to prototype their idea with a grant of up to R20,000 and also opportunities to pilot test their business ideas before launching into the market. Partnered with industry mentors, the Challenge will also expose the entrants to perspectives and networks that could help them to shape their ideas.

“Cape Town is an innovative and design-led city, and this project aims to tap into the deep well of creativity in our city in particular– the goal is to unlock new products and solutions that can help in the fight against COVID-19 as well as unearth ideas that can become new tangible products and services post-COVID. As the first African city to be designated a UNESCO City of Design within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), through initiatives like this Challenge we can be at the forefront of innovative solutions in a time of crisis. Through the RE:SOLVEChallenge we are providing a platform for bright ideas from Capetonians, including a few wild card spaces reserved for other provinces, to reach their potential,” says Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management within the City of Cape Town.

To help get the big ideas off the ground, each entrepreneur or team of entrepreneurs will be mentored and guided through a series of Product Development rounds. A multi-skilled team of business consultants, design-thinking facilitators, product developers, and creative experts will help to shape and co-create the solutions alongside the entrepreneur/teams. Facilitated by dY/dX, the Challenge’s industry sponsors also include Uber, Red & Yellow and Smollan.


“The project brings together a multi-skilled team led by the Craft and Design Institute, which has a long track record of success in unlocking the potential of local entrepreneurs and using a design-led approach to surface viable new products that can be commercialised,” adds Alderman Vos.


According to Erica Elk, Croup CEO at the CDI, the project is perfectly timed and much needed to solve some of the biggest challenges faced in South Africa today.


“We have seen the deep and devasting impact of COVID-19 on our society and it has laid bare many of the biggest issues we face as a country. South Africans have stood up bravely and resiliently to flatten the curve over the past months, but we face a stark reality of needing to rebuild our economy and to find new ways to approach many of our systemic challenges. This RE:SOLVE Challenge is about tapping into the resolve of our people, about re-looking at old ways of doing things through a new lens, and ultimately bringing to the forefront the very best ideas through innovative products and services. There is no better place to start than with the ingenuity of South Africans.”



Programme Details


The RE:SOLVE Challenge only accepts online entries. 


Following the entry period, 15 teams or individuals will be chosen for the four-month programme. Each entrant or team will receive mentoring from senior executives within the business, product development, design-thinking, and creative industries.


With people at its heart, the Challenge will celebrate innovative ideas that showcase the four vital pillars of the project:


  • Community - enriching those around you
  • Ecology - not harming, but rather benefiting the planet
  • Dignity - valuing people and providing them a sense of worth
  • Profitability - an ability to make money

Proof of Concept opportunities will be offered by the Challenge, allowing the selected teams to prototype their business ideas and solutions with a grant of up to R20,000. Terms and conditions apply.


The RE:SOLVE Challenge is now open for applications and will accept online entries submitted till 5 November 2020.


For more details, please visit:





The CDI is a catalytic agent of change in the craft and design sector, and passionate about developing appropriately skilled, resourced and digitally proficient entrepreneurs who can successfully leverage opportunities for growth and development. The CDI currently supports over 5 600 businesses and individuals in the South African craft and design sector. The small businesses supported by the CDI range from start-ups to exporting enterprises and are based all over South Africa – from rural towns to urban centres. CDI’s services help these businesses develop the right product/service for the right market using appropriate business and production systems; and facilitates national and international market opportunities to help them grow.



As a digital transformation practice dY/dX (previously &Innovation), helps businesses adapt and grow in rapidly changing environments. Using broad teams with varied skills and expertise, the company interrogates business challenges to get from usable digital ideas to in-market solutions that are actually used. Based in Cape Town but spread around the world, dY/dX distributed teams support forward-looking companies across Europe and Africa.

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