Qualcomm has completed the first year of the Africa Innovation Platform, an initiative designed to bolster Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem, and has announced several enhancements to the programme for next year.
The platform comprises mentorship, education, and training programmes, and has been instrumental in providing crucial resources and support to local universities, ten small-to-medium-sized startups, and grant participants. Now, it will be enhanced through the Qualcomm Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund, which provides funding to propel startups as they scale up, and a Patent Filing Incentive, which will offer startups financial reimbursement towards filing patent applications.
During 2023, Qualcomm’s Africa Innovation Platform reached the following milestones. Information provided by Qualcomm:
- Qualcomm Make in Africa Startup Mentorship Program: As the first initiative of its kind in Africa, this equity-free mentorship program identified promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware, and provided these companies with business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property. The inaugural cohort includes the following startups (listed in alphabetical order):
· Ecorich Solutions – patented organic composting in Kenya
· Fixbot – Vehicle diagnostics and inspection via OBD dongle in Nigeria
· Karaa – e-Bike tracking, charging, retrofit, and rentals in Uganda
· Maotronics Systems Limited – IOT-enabled precision agriculture in Nigeria
· Microfuse – Affordable plugin computers for the education sector in Uganda
· Neural Labs Africa Ltd – Deep learning and AI for healthcare diagnosis in Kenya
· OneTouch Diagnostics – Diabetes patch and monitoring system in Kenya
· QuadLoop – Leveraging e-waste for solar e-Lanterns and battery storage in Nigeria.
· SLS Energy – Recycled lead-cell battery storage banks in Rwanda
· SolarTaxi – Electric vehicle (EV) taxi and fleet management in Ghana
- Qualcomm Africa University Relations Program: This program bolsters the research and educational capabilities of select African universities, research labs, and students by enhancing engineering curriculum and providing training on technologies such as Extended Reality, Robotics and AI/ML using Qualcomm platforms and developer kits.
- Qualcomm Academy: Qualcomm’s education and training arm expanded its 5G University Training Program to students at select African universities and organizations, who received 5G training and certification from industry-leading engineers.
Qualcomm is enhancing the Africa Innovation Platform with the following new benefits:
- Qualcomm Wireless Reach Social Impact Funds: Since 2007, Wireless Reach has invested in sustainable programs across Africa that demonstrate innovative uses of wireless technology to advance economic and social development.
Upon conclusion of the QMIA mentorship phase, Wireless Reach is providing funding to propel the 10 startups as they scale their societal and market impact. These startups are invited to submit proposals that demonstrate how their solutions are leveraging wireless technologies to address a pressing need in their communities. One recipient will be awarded the primary grant to help scale and sustain their impact, while others will receive valuable stipends to continue fueling their growth.
Wireless Reach is also providing the startups with Qualcomm hardware and software kits for development and prototyping platforms. This will enable them to develop custom innovations and improved capabilities into their products while utilising Qualcomm’s advanced technologies for connectivity, computing, and AI.
- Patent Filing Incentive: Qualcomm will offer startups financial reimbursement (subject to a cap) towards filing of a single utility (non-provisional and complete) patent application with a pre-approved patent office or patent union based in Africa. This strategic investment will not only protect the startups’ intellectual property rights but also propel their market reach, positioning them as leaders in the African innovation landscape.
“With emerging technologies in 5G, AI, robotics, IoT, and multimedia, we are seeing a new era of invention,” said Alex Rogers, President, QTL & Global Affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated. “Through initiatives like the Qualcomm Innovation Platform, we are enabling companies around the world to build on our foundational technologies and join us in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.”
* For details on applying for the 2024 Qualcomm Make in Africa startup mentorship programme, visit: https://www.qualcomm.com/company/locations/africa/qualcomm-make-in-africa