17 African startups have been selected for the Space-Tech Challenge 2020, which aims to develop the most promising new innovators, entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses in the space-tech sector across Africa.
Space-Tech applications use earth observation to gather information about the physical, chemical and biological systems of the planet via remote-sensing technologies. Such tech has seen a surge in demand for these applications across a wide range of industries.
The Space-Tech Challenge will identify and develop startups in this space, specifically targeting downstream space-tech applications across agriculture, insurance, retail, sustainability and conservation.
Seventeen finalists have been selected to progress to the next stage of the challenge, which will see them undergo an intensive two-week business development support programme. This will be followed by a pitching den where startups will present their solutions to a panel of judges and industry representatives.
Winners, meanwhile, will receive four months of online incubation and virtual mentorship, and ongoing access to a peer-to-peer network through TechTribe. The overall winner will win a SecureWatch Premium 5GB, valid for three months to the value of US$12,500, while there are also smaller prizes for second and third place. All three will have the chance to directly pitch their idea to a MAXAR representative.
The finalists include nine from South Africa, including digital mapping startup Abiri, built environment and tech-focused startup Sturtium, geospatial data science company Hydro Blu, cloud based digitisation and farm management platform Smart AgrIoT, and natural disaster mapping solution Risk Response
Also from South Africa are UpFarm, which provides farmers with technology that can help them produce food in a sustainable way; Contre IPC, which uses earth observation data to track and recover stolen household content; and ABCD Electricity, which uses solar irradiance data to estimate the electricity production capabilities of new PV installations. The South African Space Technology for Sustainable Development Foundation, a non-profit organisation, is also selected.
Two finalists are from Nigeria, in the form of agribusiness-focused geographic information systems (GIS) mapping provider FieldDev, and Agro Data, which optimises tropical farming with the application of technologies.
Rwanda is also represented by two companies, namely HeHe, a post-harvest platform that uses remote sensing technology to forecast supply and consumer data to forecast demand and allocate logistics resources, and FloodWiz, which provides easy-to-use data on flood patterns to assist with disaster management.
The list is completed by Botswanan environmental and geospatial consultancy firm Green Aces; Zambia’s Fourth Line, an agribusiness that handles product distribution for smallholder bee farmers; and Russia’s GeoAlert, an AI-powered mapping platform.