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African and European incubators and accelerators are set to benefit from the new ENRICH in Africa (EiA) Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. The state-of-the-art facilities – described as a major boost for the technology innovation ecosystem – was launched at the recent EiA congress in Nairobi, Kenya.
Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the EiA project brings together core stakeholders from Africa and Europe. The Kenya-based congress featured senior-level decision-makers, incubation and acceleration experts, business executives, entrepreneurs and experts from both continent’s to discuss a mutual future for innovation cooperation.
From the EiA Centre’s Canal Walk offices, registered users will be able to access a range of services, including high-level solutions for incubators and accelerators through a membership programme. Targeted programmes for entrepreneurs, such as open innovation challenges and soft-landing opportunities, are also on the cards.
EiA Centre director Eduardo Herrmann, who also heads up Steinbeis Europa Zentrum’s smart manufacturing and sustainability department, says they are thrilled to work with such a strong group of partners adding value to the innovation ecosystem of Europe and Africa.
“There is such a great amount of work already taking place in this space, but we see a real value in being able to raise the capacity of such actors as well as connect the two regions to each other,” he says.
Along with Startupbootcamp AfriTech, the global digital innovation firm Methys Group has been selected to host the EiA Centre in Cape Town. Founded in 2004, Methys is renowned for its group of innovative organisations serving clients in accelerating their innovation efforts.
Methys chief executive Christophe Viarnaud, who is also an EiA Centre director, adds that they are pleased to have been selected alongside Startupbootcamp AfriTech, a long-time partner.
He says, “Together we will, thanks to the grant from the European Commission and the platform of partnerships we have been building over the years, work relentlessly to build together a common business around technology partnerships, open innovation and soft-landing for African entrepreneurs in Europe and European entrepreneurs in Africa. We look forward to continuing to amplify our work to support our ecosystem.”
Besides Methys and Startupbootcamp Afritech in South Africa, the other project partners are Steinbeis Europa Zentrum and SPI from Europe. The centre’s offices are being jointly hosted by Methys and Startupbootcamp AfriTech in Cape Town with the activities and services of the centre being further supported by numerous established African and European players in the innovation ecosystem.
The EiA project was designed to build a supportive network of incubators and accelerators, piloting services in a “by the community, for the community” ethos, with the purpose of strengthening internationalisation and collaboration in innovation.
Furthermore, the centre is centralised through an online digital platform, providing a digital meeting space for different innovation stakeholders, including incubators, accelerators, innovation facilitators, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and corporate investors.