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Qualcomm unveils innovation platform for Africa

Complementing the company’s commitment to driving 5G adoption in Africa, it will provide resources for universities, startups, and grant participants.

Global technology company Qualcomm, maker of the processors that power most smartphones, has announced the launch of an Africa Innovation Platform. It will comprise a suite of mentorship, education, and training programs created to support the development of Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem.

The platform will provide resources and support for local universities, startups, and grant participants, exposing them to Qualcomm engineers and a state-of-the-art capabilities suite for mobile platforms and technologies, including 4G, 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.

“The Africa Innovation Platform will stimulate innovation around product development, inspire learning, fuel research, and increase awareness around the value of intellectual property throughout the continent,” said Enrico Salvatori, Qualcomm senior vice president and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “At its core, Qualcomm is an R&D engine, and this program will simultaneously inspire the next generation of inventors, while also fueling the broader technology ecosystem.” 

Enrico Salvatori, Qualcomm senior VP for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Qualcomm representatives will engage and collaborate with governments, trade associations, and other key stakeholders throughout the continent, including the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), to launch the Africa Innovation Platform. 

The ATU said in a statement: “The African Telecommunications Union is a firm advocate of innovation, and recently initiated a youth innovation programme for Africa with a projected financial value of about US$400,000. ATU welcomes Qualcomm’s Africa Innovation Initiative and, working together, looks forward to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), catalysing new business opportunities, and contributing to solving challenges in various sectors such as education, health, agriculture, movement, trade, and government services.”

Qualcomm’s Africa Innovation Platform comprises (as supplied by Qualcomm):

  • Qualcomm Make in Africa Startup Mentorship Program: As the first initiative of its kind in Africa, this equity-free mentorship programme will identify promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware, and provide these companies with business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property.
  • Qualcomm Africa University Relations Program: This program will bolster the research and educational capabilities of select African universities, research labs, and students by providing them with learning platforms and associated trainings, as well as Qualcomm developer kits. The programme will also work with university faculty to develop course and lab curricula.
  • Qualcomm Wireless Academy: Qualcomm’s education and training arm will expand its 5G University Training Program to students at select African universities, who will be able to receive 5G training and certification from industry-leading engineers.
  • Wireless Reach: Since 2007, through the Qualcomm Wireless Reach initiative, Qualcomm has invested in sustainable programmes in Africa that demonstrate innovative uses of wireless technology to advance economic and social development. Wireless Reach will continue this work through a collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union’s Development Bureau (ITU-D) that will focus on building early foundational digital skills for youth, with the aim of fostering the early stage of the talent pipeline that will go on to drive digital, inclusive economic transformation in Africa. Over the past 15 years, Wireless Reach’s 52 education projects have improved teaching and learning outcomes for nearly 1.2 million students and teachers in 20 countries to date.

Elizabeth Migwalla, Qualcomm vice president and head of government affairs for Middle East and Africa, said: “At Qualcomm, we have always been passionate about innovation. The Africa Innovation Platform is an exciting new programme that builds on our close work with governments, operators, and telecommunications standardization bodies over the past several years. The programmes that make up this platform will ultimately help African companies service markets throughout the continent and realize their global ambitions, further accelerating the growth of Africa’s creation economy.”

The Africa Innovation Platform will also help African entrepreneurs and researchers service markets throughout the continent, and participate in many economic sectors including healthcare, education, agriculture, critical infrastructure, smart cities, and smart industries. It builds on Qualcomm’s ongoing experience in operating similar initiatives in India, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Applications will open mid-December 2022, and Qualcomm Technologies will hold online webinars to offer information sessions about the programme. Details of the application process, eligibility criteria, and benefits will be announced on Qualcomm’s website.

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