Common thread: What is the recipe for success when submitting to Innovation Edge?

by | Jan 12, 2022 | Blog

At Innovation Edge, we believe that the potential for creative solutions to early childhood challenges can come from anywhere, no matter your background or current level of experience. 

We want to hear your ideas and find joy in supporting those that meet our criteria. Keep reading to find out how to give yours the best chance of success during our application process. 

Our offering 

Innovation Edge offers multiple funding avenues for projects aimed at solving development challenges faced by children between the ages of 0 – 6 in South Africa. We help investees cultivate and test their solutions, as well as explore social and financial return opportunities. 

Our support extends beyond financial backing, with assistance in navigating the early childhood development ecosystem, designing long-term, sustainable strategies, and providing the space to foster connections with possible future funders.

What to consider before applying to Innovation Edge 

It is key that you know why you are choosing to apply to Innovation Edge before starting the process. What is it that you feel our funding structure and values can offer you and your venture above other investors? Having a good sense of your motivation to apply will make your application clearer and more concise with regards to your goals and how our financial and non-financial aid can help you reach these. 

Think about what drives you or your team. We are constantly on the lookout for investees who are aligned with our mission of finding innovative solutions to addressing the pressing early childhood challenges present in South Africa. There are many gaps to fill when it comes to the first six years of the lives of the children in this country, especially those in impoverished communities, making us passionate about finding partners to collaborate with in designing a feasible foundation for their beginnings. 

Look at what stage of development your venture is in and how much support you would require. Innovation Edge breaks this down into three key phases: 

  1. Feasibility: You have a firm concept and would like to gauge what your target audience thinks.
  2. Proof of  concept: You are ready to create a Minimum Viable Product through development, testing, and refinement; or piloting. 
  3. Moving towards scale: You are prepared to investigate pathways to demonstrate the potential impact your solution offers. 

It is also important to note our basic criteria for ventures that do not qualify for funding, namely, those that fall outside of South Africa, are not sustainable beyond the support we are able to supply, and which do not directly or indirectly impact the lives of children between the ages of 0 – 6, including pregnancy. 

How to show Innovation Edge that your idea is worth investing in

  • Have a firm understanding of your goals

In order to pitch an idea effectively, you need to know what you would ultimately like to achieve. Consider the short- and long-term goals of what you are putting forward and disclose these in your application. This will demonstrate that you have thought about the feasibility of the venture post our intervention. 

  • Be thorough 

Make it clear that you have done your research by sharing insights into the causes and consequences of the issue you want to solve, indicating who your target audience is and why, and presenting a well-structured, detailed budget for the amount you are requesting over a particular funding period. Include unit costs, quantities, and activities in your budget plan and express how you are thinking about extending your reach to be able to sustain the idea once Innovation Edge has supplied the initial funds. 

  • Believe in your venture 

For any investment to go beyond what we are able to offer, it is important that you believe in what you are developing and the impact it can have on the problem you want to solve. To convey this in your application, answer all questions with confidence and clarity, leaving no response open-ended or ambiguous.

  • Share your vision 

For Innovation Edge to gain an understanding of the bigger picture you have in mind with your project, provide us with an idea of the long-term change you would like to see, how your solution could affect individuals, families, and communities well into the future. Early childhood years are the years that shape us – how will your solution influence the next generation and those around them? 

  • Present something new

A large part of our investment criteria outlines that the ventures we fund should introduce either a completely new way of doing things or be evidently repurposing an existing solution to address real issues. Tell us about the gap you want to fill with your solution and explain why your idea is unique to the early childhood development landscape in South Africa.

  • Be authentic 

Allow us to see who you are and what you stand for in your application. We want to work with the real people behind each investment we make. 

How to apply 

Innovation Edge provides an online application process, which takes less than 20 minutes to complete. Be sure to check out our investment criteria and have a read through some of the questions you will be asked on the form before starting.

Applicants whose applications we feel speak to our mission and who show promise for a successful venture will be invited for a chat with our team with the aim of making an investment offer. 

We approve ideas four times a year during meetings with our Investment Committee, where we hope to make 6 to 10 new investments for the year. Previous investments which show further potential may be selected for reinvestment at these meetings. 

Who can apply?

Anyone who meets our vision, is motivated, open to growth, adaptable, and creative is welcome to apply. 

We believe that impactful ideas can come from anywhere, all they need is a passionate self-starter to drive action, and a well-considered plan for the foreseeable lifespan of the project.