The awards recognise the 500 fastest-growing technology companies in regions around the world and, for the first time, South African companies are eligible for the service.
The country will hold the Fast 50, a subset of the awards, the winners of which will be put forward to a regional Fast 500. “Technology is still one of those fast changing sectors that have a wider impact on society. The Technology Fast 50 award is about recognising and encouraging all types of African IT businesses,” says Trevor Wright, lead for Technology, Media and Telecoms in the Risk Advisory unit at professional services firm Deloitte.
Companies can compete in eight categories. These are software, hardware (including electronic components), internet, green technology, media and entertainment, telecoms, networking as well as the biotech, pharmaceutical and medical equipment category.
To be eligible, companies have to have been in operation for five years so that to allow for proper measurement of revenue growth. Wright notes that this year’s selection in particular will lead to industry wide recognition for achieving sustained success through a period characterised by economic instability and uncertainty.
Companies have to have developed and own the technology they use or be involved in manufacturing technology. Thus using another company’s technology, even in a unique manner, does not qualify.
Winners, who will be announced at a ceremony on 17 October, will then be forwarded as entries for the Technology Fast 500 in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. These will be unveiled in London in November.
“South Africa’s challenging environment often leads to people coming up with exciting solutions,” says Wright, noting these qualities are what Deloitte are looking for with this global search, which includes South Africa for the first time.
Although the initiative is focused on South African companies, Wright says companies from the rest of the continent can enter and will have their entries processed for the EMEA Fast 500.
Wright says Africa is has been grappling with the challenge of limited telecoms infrastructure and bandwidth, but this is steadily improving through some major cable-laying projects. This will allow scores of technology companies to “stitch the continent together”, and provide innovative solutions.