Aerospace start-ups present solutions to continent’s challenges

May 29th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Participants in the latest Airbus BizLab and GIZ #Africa4Future challenge for innovative African aerospace and remote sensing start-ups met with experts, investors and other stakeholders at an innovators summit in Cape Town in May 2019. Africa’s top start-ups presented proposals to tackle water, food and land security, healthcare, urban development and engineering challenges in Africa.

The two-day summit also included expert-led sessions looking at investment, food sustainability, smart cities and villages, drone testing, image analytics, aviation policy for sustainable growth and the role of women in the aerospace industry.

The group of innovators.

The group of innovators.

The ten start-ups were selected from 314 entries in 19 African countries in the second season of the #Africa4Future Challenge, when it opened last October 2018.  They focus on the application of aerospace-related solutions, including automation, drones, artificial intelligence and data analytics in addressing serious challenges in various parts of the continent, such as healthcare, water management, food security, agriculture, environmental monitoring, land use and the development of smart cities and villages.

Airbus Defence and Space's Corné Eloff.

Airbus Defence and Space’s Corné Eloff.

Since January this year, the start-ups have participated in an intensive mentorship and business acceleration programme, including bootcamps held in Kenya, France, Germany and South Africa. The programme will end next month when they present their solutions at closing Demo Days in Berlin and at the biennial Paris Air Show.

The Aerospace in Africa panel discussion with Refilwe Ledwaba, Carolina Odman and Fatima Jakoet.

The Summit also featured an all-female Aerospace in Africa panel discussion with Refilwe Ledwaba (South Africa’s first black female helicopter pilot and founder of the Girls Fly Programme in Africa Foundation), Carolina Odman (Physics and Astrology Professor at the University of Western Cape), and Fatima Jakoet (South African Airways pilot and forensic scientist). The women provided insight into topics surrounding the potential of the aerospace industry to impact the continent, and discussed several of the barriers that currently make it difficult to do so, as well as where support should come from.

#Africa4Future is a joint accelerator initiative of Airbus and GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa initiative together with the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Africa, an entrepreneurial training programme, seed fund and Pan-African incubator, and Innocircle, the South African-based innovation consultancy.  It is dedicated to African tech startups that are actively working on aerospace-based solutions to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges.

Contact Thea Sokolowski, MEST,

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