Originally published on the MEST Africa Blog.
Airbus BizLab’s Africa4Future Challenge returns to Africa for a second time, in partnership with ecosystem facilitator GIZ Make-IT in Africa, pan-African incubator MEST Africa, and innovation consultancy Innocircle.
The challenge launched in Toulouse, France in October 2018, and opened a call for applications from early-stage African aerospace startups. Call for applications will close at 23:59 on November 30.
It is the initiative’s goal to find and connect African aerospace startups with experts at Airbus who will work with the startups to speed up innovation and scale their product/service in Africa.
Last week, we caught up with Rey Buckman, BizLab Campus Leader and Dara Francis Elie, BizLab Communications and Events Manager. They shared Airbus’ motivation behind the initiative. Below is a summary of their words.
What is the reason behind the #Africa4Future initiative?
Airbus has run the Global Bizlab Accelerator in countries across Europe and Asia since 2015. Through this accelerator, Airbus is able to work with ambitious startups working in sectors such as unmanned logistics, UAVs, and remote sensing including Automation and Drones, Electrification, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Data analytics, Material composites & Manufacturing, thus helping the startups speedily transform their ideas into valuable businesses.
Even with the far reach of the Global Bizlab Accelerator – with locations in Toulouse (France), Hamburg (Germany), Madrid (Spain) and Bangalore (India) – Airbus has yet to work with any African startups and has limited footprint on the young continent. This is the primary reason for launching the #Africa4Future initiative, and partnering with Innocircle and MEST Africa to reach African startups from countries in every region including Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Kenya.
Why is the initiative focused on the African market?
The initiative is focused on the African market in order to get closer to local innovations and discover new, valuable business lines on the African continent. It also allows Airbus to develop more imprint and experience for a commercial perspective on the young continent.
As the #Africa4Future challenge catches on across Africa, Airbus is privileged to work with African startups to discover unique use cases for aerospace technology in Africa. They will explore similar themes as in other countries where the Global Bizlab accelerator operates and have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with bold entrepreneurs solving the continent’s problems in unique and innovative ways.
What can participants expect?
Participating in the challenge is a win-win situation for Airbus and the selected startups because the startups receive access to the Airbus network and experts, and Airbus learns more about solving problems on the continent.
Selected startups get access to Airbus resources, feedback on their technology and business models, showcase at the Paris International Air Show in 2019 and collaboratewith key Airbus departments and networks.
What’s the vision for the future?
The vision for the future is to expand across Africa and welcome the African portfolio companies into the global Airbus community. This will afford the startups a network of startups working in the same industries.
Airbus is also readily open to continuing collaborations with the portfolio companies with the biggest potential.
African innovators and startups in the aerospace sector can submit applications via https://www.airbus-bizlab.com/africa4future.