At the Innovation Bridge Portal, we strive to uplift entrepreneurs and increase economic growth as well as employment in Africa. Part of this effort is taking place in our Corporate Innovation Challenge and we made quite a lot of progress in the year 2021. The year included an educational webinar addressing the initiative, followed by a corporate roadshow, confirmation of interest, a call for start-up nominations, a virtual challenge day, and the monitoring of feedback. 

In this article, we will delve into each of the steps taken and what was accomplished. 

The Educational Webinar 

On the 2nd of December 2020, corporations from both the public and private sectors as well as venture capitalists were invited to the online webinar. The webinar was held to provide information on the Corporate Innovation Challenge. Honourable speakers included representatives and leadership from The World Bank, the Department of Science and Innovation, BUSA (Business Unity Sout Africa), Sanlam, and Plug and Play. 

The Corporate Roadshow 

A corporate roadshow was held to request and encourage corporates to engage and participate in the Corporate Innovation Challenge. The intention of this was to ask them to submit their tech focus areas. 

A Confirmation of Interest 

Between April and May 2021 tech focus areas were received from 12 corporations. They also stated and confirmed their interest in the Corporate Innovation Challenge. 

A Call for Start-Up Nominations 

From the 1st to 30th of June 2021 there was a call for start-up nominations. These were to be directly relevant and related to the stated tech interests and regional development objectives. During this time more than 120 start-up applications were submitted and received. 

The Virtual Challenge Day 

On the 16th of July 2021, the virtual challenge day was arranged and held. Prior to this day, a shortlist consisting ing 12 start-ups from the 5 SACU countries was compiled. On this day, these 12 start-ups presented their pitches. 

The Monitoring of Feedback

Following the virtual challenge day, the 12 start-ups and 12 corporates were encouraged to engage with one another. The communication between them was monitored. The outcome was typically quite positive with many partnerships forming from this process.

We hope to see the Corporate Innovation Challenge grow and result in many successful partnerships achieving an enabling environment.

Corporate Innovation Challenge: The 2021 Progress Report