AfricArena Tech Conference to be ‘one-stop shop’ for startups and investors

A “one-stop shop” for deal making. That’s what AfricArena Tech Conference lead organiser Christophe Viarnaud claims the two-day conference set for 6 and 7 November at the Century City Conference Centre, Cape Town will achieve.

Addressing a press conference held on Wednesday at Invest SA’s Cape Town office, Viarnaud said the conference — an initiative of La French Tech and Silicon Cape — aims to facilitate investment deals between investors and tech entrepreneurs.

AfricArena Tech Conference will be held in Cape Town at the Century City Convention Centre between 6 and 7 November

Viarnaud attributes African startups struggle to raise funding to “a lack of interface, a lack of connectors”. He said although there are big corporates that have the resources and capital to invest in open innovation in Africa, there was no platform to facilitate that.

“There are a lot of investor conferences, there are a lot of startup conferences, but we could not find a big enough startup and investor open innovation conference,” he added.

Viarnaud said the organisers took the idea for the conference from Finnish startup event Slush, which connects startups with top-tier investors.

“We saw Slush and we realised we need to do the Slush of Africa, and is this how the vision was built,” he said.

Viarnaud expects that at least half of the attendees will be international delegates, including investors from Africa, Europe, US as well as large companies looking to invest in the African tech ecosystem.

Read more: To create next Elon Musk continent needs more seed funding says AfricArena head

The conference itself will have two tracks, the first a traditional conference with speakers and panellists discussing six key themes – smart living, smart commerce, smart media, smart education and smart travel, as well as other issues like funding.

Confirmed speakers include innovation strategist and author John Sanei, Knife Capital co-founder Keet Van Zyl, Simodisa managing director Matsi Modise, Air France KLM Group Africa senior vice president Frank Legré, and BPI France head of international affairs Isabelle Bebear.

The second track will feature pitches around the Africa Arena challenges which will be streamed live online by investment platform Euroquity.

Other investors confirmed to attend the conference include the South African Venture Capital Association (Savca) and the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.

Entering the open challenges

Over 50 startups are scheduled to attend the event from across Africa. VC4A will also be bring some of their key startups to the pitch event while eight finalists in the FSAT Labs incubator competition will also attend the conference.

Read more: French South African Tech Labs opens calls for applications to second cohort

AfricArena will also hold several open innovation challenges sponsored by corporates across different verticals. The challenges will result in three to four startups being selected per challenge.

Some of the challenge sponsors include include Schneider Electric, The City of Cape Town, RCS BNP Paribas and Leroy Merlin South Africa.

“We are using these challenges to fund the startups to attend the conference,” said Viarnaud.

Besides getting the opportunity to attend and pitch at the conference, the challenge winners will get to work with the respective challenge sponsors.

Learn more about the AfricaArena Tech Conference open challenges here.

Featured image: Africarena via Facebook

Daniel Mpala


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