Here are 12 challenges and competitions African tech startups can enter in 2019

Featured image: AgroCenta CEO and co-founder Francis Obirikorang accepting the startup’s Seedstars Global Winner award at the 2018 Seedstars Summit (Supplied)
Featured image: AgroCenta CEO and co-founder Francis Obirikorang accepting the startup’s Seedstars Global Winner award at the 2018 Seedstars Summit (Supplied)

Looking for funding, incubation, corporate partnerships or maybe even media exposure? Then why not enter an innovation challenge or startup competition.

With an increasing number of such challenges and competitions on offer, Ventureburn has sought to list a few you can look to enter this year.

We have scoured the internet and selected ones to which African tech entrepreneurs are be eligible to apply for.

Here are 12 competitions and challenges African startups can enter. As the year progresses, a number of others will be announced. Ventureburn will keep you updated of these.

Startup competitions and innovation challenges are a good way for tech entrepreneurs to raise funding or secure corporate partnerships, incubation and business acceleration

2019 Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Catalyst: GIST Catalyst offers entrepreneurs in the technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector, the opportunity to pitch and present their solutions at the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which takes place this year in The Hague, Netherlands on 4 and 5 June.

Entrepreneurs with investment-ready scale-ups that address global challenges in health, energy, water, food and agriculture, as well as connectivity and infrastructure are encouraged to apply.

Applications will close next Wednesday (30 January), while finalists will be informed by 4 March.

GIST Catalyst participants stand to benefit from startup training from American academics in science and technology.

StartUp Energy Transition Award 2019: This international competition is aimed at startups who are working on ideas that could affect global energy transition and climate change.

Interested innovators can apply to enter one of five different categories, namely: low-carbon energy production; intelligent grids, platforms and cyber security; energy efficiency, smart devices and storage; innovative mobility; and a special prize for quality access and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7.

An expert jury panel will select three too startups in each category to pitch their solutions at the annual SET Tech Festival taking place in Berlin, Germany on 9 April. Applications close on 31 January.

Startup World Cup: Think your startup has what it takes to duke it out with other companies from around the world? Then you’ll want to take a shot at this competition’s a $1-million grand prize.

Regional finals for this competition have already been held for Mauritius and South Africa. However, Nigerian and Kenyan startups can still apply to participate in the finals which take place on 9 February and between 21 and 22 March, respectively.

The grand finale is set to take place on 17 May in San Francisco.

2019 MEST Africa Challenge: Finalists of the pitch competition, which is now in its second year, stand to receive up to $50 000 in equity investment from MEST, space in a MEST incubator (in Accra, Lagos or Cape Town) and the opportunity to pitch at the finals of the challenge.

The finals will be held at the 2019 MEST Africa Summit which will take place between 10 and 12 June in Nairobi, Kenya.

Entrepreneurs with post-revenue tech startups based in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa that are ready to expand into new markets must submit applications by 15 February.

Top companies in each region will be invited to pitch at regional events in Abidjan (28 February), Accra (27 February), Cape Town (28 February), Lagos (26 February) and Nairobi (27 February).

Sanofi in Africa VivaTechnology challenges: French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi is hosting three innovation challenges at VivaTech.

Healthtech or medtech startups selected through these challenges will receive a free booth and tickets to attend VivaTech which takes place between 16 and 18 May in Paris.

In addition, the finalists will also attend a pitch preparation workshop before they pitch in front of a jury composed of Sanofi top executives and key external stakeholders.

The selected startups also stand to collaborate as well as receive funding from Sanofi in Africa as well as gain access to the company’s internal expertise.

Applications close on 15 February.

The LVMH Innovation Award: French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, commonly known as LVMH, runs this annual award, which is granted to one startup during French tech conference VivaTechnology (VivaTech).

The award is open to startups that are working on new products and services in line with the LVMH’s Group’s business activities. This year the focus is on online and offline retail solutions in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality tools.

Innovators with solutions in data and analytical systems, marketing and B2B solutions, forward-looking devices or services, and many more that can have an impact on how tomorrow’s luxury consumer experiences the Group’s products are also encouraged to apply.

Applications for the challenge close on 15 February. The winner — who will be announced on 17 May — will receive an introduction to the LVMH Group management team, including those in charge of private equity investments, as well as development of a potential commercial partnership with the firm.

Proptech Innovation Award 2019: The Proptech Innovation Award is a global competition which aims to seek the hottest startups in the field of proptech.

In all a total of €40 000 worth of prizes will be given out to various winners. Participants also stand to benefit from an opportunity to pitch at the third annual PropTech Innovation Award Ceremony in Berlin on 16 May 2019.

Selected startups will join the German Tech Entrepreneurship Membership (GTEC) No Bullshit Lab, where they will benefit from a three to 12-month long support programme that provides participants with office space, legal, tax and business consulting as well as direct access to GTEC’s international network of investors and advisors for no equity.

In addition, the overall winner will automatically qualify to present their solution to an international audience of experts at the preliminary rounds of the MIPIM Startup Competition. Applications for the Proptech Innovation Award 2019 close on 15 February.

The Arch Grants Global Startup Competition: This competition awards up to $50 000 in equity-free grants and business support services to innovative and scalable startups, but there’s a catch.

Applicants must be willing to relocate to the US city of St. Louis for at least one year.

Keen on entering this industry-agnostic competition? Applications open on 1 February.

Get in the Ring: With up to €10-million in capital committed for startup finalists in the sixth edition of the Get in the Ring startup competition, this is one to competition you won’t want to miss out on.

The global startup competition is run by Dutch startup platform Get in the Ring which is active in over 100 countries. Interested innovators can pitch their solutions at local selections events across the globe.

Selected startups will receive pitch training before being reviewed by experts. The best companies at every event will battle one-on-one in a ring for a ticket to the yearly global final where they will connect with international partners.

This year participants can also apply for investment of between €50 000 and €500 000. The last selection events are set to be held in May, while those who can’t find an event in their region can apply online between 1 April and 30 April.

Finalists will be invited to attend a three-day meetup with 150 of the most promising startups from around the world.

Startup of the Year 2019: This global competition aims to elevate and support startup founders. In order to be eligible, startups must be less than six years old, must have raised less than $5-million in funding and must have completed a working beta product or service. Applications will close on 30 April.

Thereafter, 100 top semi-finalists — who will be notified by middle of June — will showcase their solutions at an event attended by investors, industrial leaders and more.

Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition: Do you have a disruptive idea or solution focused on solving real needs in the tourism and gastronomy sector in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Then you’ll want to enter into the first Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition, an initiative of The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center (BCC).

The competition aims to identify projects and innovations that can transform the Gastronomy Tourism sector in the near future. Applications close on 5 March.

Up to 20 selected startups will be shortlisted by a panel of international experts and stakeholders from the gastronomy tourism sector.

Thereafter, five finalists get a sponsored trip to pitch their ideas to a panel that will include industry leaders and internationals investors, at the fifth edition of the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism which will be held in Spain on 2 and 3 May.

The winning company, which will be announced on 3 May, will receive an opportunity to undergo a mentoring programme with BCC experts as well as participate in the business accelerator Culinary Action. The competition winner will also have the opportunity to design and implement a pilot project with the BCC.

Seedstars World Competition: Seedstars World promotes, connects and invests up to $1-million in startups in emerging markets through its startup competition which is run in over 60 countries.

To participate in this competition you’ll want to pitch at one of the local qualification rounds that are held in cities throughout Africa, so keep an eye on the competition’s website for information on when the Seedstars team will hosting a pitch competition near you.

The current round of the competition will conclude on 5 April at the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland — where the winner of various country pitches that took place throughout 2018, will be announced.

Featured image: AgroCenta CEO and co-founder Francis Obirikorang accepting the startup’s Seedstars Global Winner award at the 2018 Seedstars Summit (Supplied)

Daniel Mpala


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.