These Entrepreneurs Get the GIST: Tech-I Finalists Announced

A dangerous problem in the shantytowns of South Africa cried out for a technical solution.  Shack fires were breaking out, causing a large number of deaths, but cook-stove smoke made use of traditional smoke detectors for early warning impractical. 

A team of innovative South African scientists saw an opportunity.  What if there were an affordable device that, rather than detecting smoke, could sense the intense heat of a fire and could alert neighbors to the emergency in time to take lifesaving actions?  David Gluckman and his team created a working prototype and began looking for ways to move their technology into the marketplace.    

Gluckman entered the 2014 Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative’s Technology Idea (Tech-I) competition.  GIST Tech-I is an annual competition for young science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies worldwide.  The initiative was launched in 2011 and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs from around the world by offering training and mentoring to move their ventures forward.  GIST Tech-I competitors compete with a promotional 90 second video and executive summary of their idea or startup.  Almost 800 submissions were narrowed down to 76 semi-finalists by experts and presented on for global public voting.  Over 400,000 votes determined the 30 finalists who will compete next month for seed grants, mentorship, and bragging rights.

This year’s 30 finalists represent 23 countries -- from Albania to Chile to Botswana.  They will travel to Nairobi, Kenya this July for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES)  where they will receive two days of intensive training in areas such as team building, go-to-market strategies, channels, and financing. They will network with global leaders and pitch their ideas and startups to the GES delegates to determine the 2015 Tech-I winners.

Like previous Tech-I competition winners, Gluckman used the 2014 Tech-I at the GES as a launching pad for his company Lumkani.  Lumkani early warning fire detection devices are now used in shantytowns and informal settlements in many communities in Africa, allowing for fire suppression protocols to be implemented, minimizing damage and saving lives.  You can learn more about Lumkani on Indiegogo this month.

The 2015 Tech-I competition promises to bring new innovators’ creative solutions to real-life challenges to market.  You can follow your favorite finalists, GIST, and Tech-I related activities at, and by following #StartTheSpark #GISTTech-I on Twitter.

About the Author: Jonathan Margolis serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.



Winfrida O.
July 25, 2015
Very informative. I would wish to attend future events as young entrepreneur
2014 GIST Tech Finalists pose for a group photo
June 30, 2015


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