PRESS RELEASE – May 17, 2019, Paris
It was announced today that VivaTech, The World’s Biggest Rendezvous for Startups and Leaders, will expand its partnership with AfricArena, Africa’s largest tech ecosystem accelerator.
AfricArena is also teaming up with Digital Africa, a French platform impacting the African startup ecosystem by catalysing different digital initiatives and connecting key innovators in Africa and Europe.
The partnerships between these leading tech startup accelerators in Europe and Africa aim to create stronger connections between the continents’ top-tier entrepreneurs and ample opportunities for impactful ecosystem growth.
AfricArena, recognised as the stage for Africa’s tech future, is the ultimate deal-flow platform, bringing investors and startups together in one central location. It launched into its third consecutive year post a high-impact raise of more than $2.3 million for startups during its 2018 campaign. The startup successes from AfricArena have consistently proven global impact. Its Tech Summit, held in November last year saw more than 80 startups presenting to over 150 investors with 25 countries being represented.
VivaTech, again, recognises that technology is revolutionising Africa. For the second consecutive year, it will feature a dedicated Afric@Tech section – showcasing 50 African startups from four key sectors. Among them, the ten startups making up the AfricArena delegation proved another success for tech innovation from Africa. Five of AfricArena’s A-team startups have been listed under the top 23 of Frenchweb’s not-to-miss innovators at VivaTech. The startups listed include Aerobotics, DataProphet, FinChatBot, Sea Monster, PayDunya.
AfricArena is VivaTech Key Partner in Africa
VivaTech and AfricArena’s expanded partnership is aimed at creating more growth opportunities that are mostly linked to the concepts shared at the Afric@Tech showcasing. The refreshed relationship is another step towards injecting more support into product and service development that will appeal to an international market and help uplift African communities.
“We wanted to expand our relationship with AfricArena to help bridge the gap between talented African and European startups,” says Vincent Viollain, VivaTech’s co-founder and head of partnerships and startups. “To date, our partnership has led to amazing results that are built on two main aspects: corporate-centric and African ecosystem focused factors. Firstly, we want corporates to source startups through the Afric@Tech Track. We’ve been seeing many companies come back for another year – alongside new interests – showing growth success on the Afric@Tech scene. Secondly, it’s one of our goals to attract people who operate in the startup landscape and who are helping to build the continents’ ecosystem.”
“We are really happy to continue our journey with AfricArena. We are committed to our Pan-African agenda and are proud to have 25 African countries represented at VivaTech this year. South Africa, especially, has a booming ecosystem – 28 percent of the African startup pool is from South Africa and we’re proud to be part of this network.”
Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of AfricArena, adds: “The expanded partnership amplifies the work we have been doing together over the last two years. The fact that we have an African showcase at VivaTech is key to assist the development of African startups and connect them with international investors. VivaTech related projects, such as the open innovation challenge, show that we’re actively getting involved, choosing topics around AI and putting Africa at the forefront of this specific segment.”
AfricArena and Digital Africa join Forces Around a Common Open Source DNA
Today also celebrates the beginning of AfricArena and Digital Africa’s joint venture. Digital Africa is an initiative with almost 40 partners in Africa and Europe connecting them to the continents’ startup networks. VivaTech marks the launch of its operations and new partnership announcements. While VivaTech is an opportunity to take Digital Africa’s efforts further, their AfricArena partnership will enable them to multiply synergies between ecosystem key players and connect African startups to resources while stimulating knowledge-sharing.
“AfricArena is boosting Africa’s success story – they support what we believe in,” says Karim Sy, Digital Africa president. “We use our platform design methodologies and strategies to unify and reunite all the important key players and bring the right people and resources together. Our partnership enables us to create more opportunities from our efforts and, at the same time, give AfricArena access to a global ecosystem to help showcase African entrepreneurs’ narratives to the world.”
“Our new partnership is a self-supporting ‘loop’: where we can support what Digital Africa does and visa versa, essentially, increasing the impact we’re both making in Africa,” says AfricArena’s Christophe Viarnaud. “As AfricArena is based in Africa and Digital Africa is predominantly in France, this places us in the ideal space to share a series of common initiatives.”
Digital Africa will collaborate with AfricArena and expand the accelerator into the GEC+Africa event. Digital Africa will support AfricArena during their tour in November and in organising and impacting its acceleration week. Other initiatives include the AfricArena Tech Summit (Johannesburg 11 – 12 November 2019) and the GC Summit in Rwanda in October 2019.
AfricArena selected 10 leading Pan-African tech startups to accompany them and their partners to VivaTech 2019 in Paris (16 – 18 May). The teams will showcase their concepts at the City Lab at VivaTech on Friday afternoon, 17 May.
The ten startups in the AfricArena VivaTech 2019 delegation include Aerobotics, DataProphet, FinChatBot, Guardian Gabriel, HomeFarm, MedBit, Oniriq, PayDunya, TravelBudds and Sea Monster. These startups emerged as the top high-growth and high-potential startups in the Open Innovation Challenges of the AfricArena 2018 Tour.
AfricArena is anchored and endorsed by major international sponsors BNP Paribas, La French Tech, Silicon Cape, Vinci Energies, AirFrance KLM, Engie, Sanofi, Saint-Gobain, Methys, City of Cape Town, Proparco, RCS, and Leroy Merlin.
AfricArena teams up with corporate and institutional partners under the banner of utilising business and technology as a force for good in uplifting the African continent. The partners of AfricArena helped handpick the delegation and some key representatives have accompanied the team to VivaTech.
The following sponsors specifically came to South Africa and AfricArena to explore innovation opportunities within Africa and determine how to scale African innovation in the global market: RCS, Saint-Gobain, AirFrance KLM, Vinci Energies, VivaTech, Leroy Merlin, Engie, Sanofi and FSAT Labs.
The startups making up the AfricArena 2019 delegation for VivaTech will participate in the Afric@Tech Track at the conference and engage in pitch battles and Open Innovation Challenges.
More on the Ten Startups forming the AfricArena 2019 delegation:
Aerobotics (Cape Town): Aerobotics uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites and machine learning algorithms for early problem detection on tree and wine farms to optimise crop performance for farmers.
DataProphet (Cape Town): DataProphet’s OMNI provides solutions to critical manufacturing challenges. It is AI-enabled dynamic parameter optimisation for manufacturing.
FinChatBot (Johannesburg): FinChatBot develops AI-powered Chatbots that help financial services providers acquire and retain customers while reducing operational costs.
Guardian Gabriel (Cape Town): Guardian Gabriel is an early stage venture incubated at the French South African Tech Labs specialising in safety tech – providing a wearable panic button that works with no connection to a smartphone.
HomeFarm (Johannesburg): HomeFarm is a smart, IoT, crop-growing app that allows users to effortlessly grow a variety of micro-greens from the comfort of their home all year round.
MedBit (Nairobi): Medbit provides a means to search for, book and pay for various healthcare services on a smartphone or computer.
Oniriq (Dakar): OniriQ is designing and manufacturing the next-gen Solar Home Systems (SHS) for African populations living off-grid (600 million people).
PayDunya (Dakar): PayDunya is a global online payment service for Africans that allows customers to send and receive payments from mobile money wallets, credit cards and cash and allows users to get paid and sell online without the need of a website.
SeaMonster (Cape Town): SeaMonster creates custom VR games that entertain passengers and allow them to compete for rewards.
TravelBudds (Mauritius): TravelBudds is the social network for young, connected travel lovers looking for the best ways to travel the world and share their experiences with their friends.
AfricArena – Go Big or Go Home
Aerobotics is an artificial intelligence AgriTech start-up specialising in tree crop pest and disease monitoring processes using aerial data and AI software. While headquartered in Cape Town, they are serving clients in more than 18 countries. Aerobotics recently expanded its series funding round from $2 million to $4 million.
“Going into a second consecutive year with the AfricArena VivaTech Challenge, we are excited at the prospects of another year of their successful partnership,” says Timothy Willis, COO of Aerobotics. “We’ve worked hard to gain the trust of more than a thousand farmers in ten countries and this opportunity is giving us a chance to extend our market expansion strategy to France and USA.”
Also receiving global traction is DataProphet, recalled as one of Africa’s leading machine learning specialists.
“We are honoured to be chosen as one of the ten startups to attend VivaTech,” says Frans Cronje, DataProphet’s CEO. “AfricaArena is leading the way and opening doors for innovative technology vendors born in Africa. The African market is often overlooked when it comes to foreign investment, yet the expertise and innovation is more advanced than some of the biggest tech vendors in the world. We’re excited about the opportunity to showcase our proven Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions in manufacturing to investors at the event and meeting other technology pioneers.”