Startups & Ideas

Qualcomm Selects 4 Kenyan Startups for 2024 Make in Africa Program

Qualcomm has announced the new cohort of startups for its 2024 Make in Africa program, underlining its commitment to fostering innovation across the African continent. The Make in Africa program is an equity-free mentorship initiative that targets promising early-stage startups keen on harnessing advanced connectivity and processing technologies, including 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT. This initiative, now entering its second year, aims to significantly enhance the technological ecosystem in Africa by offering not only mentorship but also comprehensive business coaching, access to expert engineering consultations, and invaluable guidance on intellectual property protection.

In 2024, the program drew an overwhelming response with around 250 applications from startups across 30 countries, demonstrating the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and the burgeoning tech innovation scene in Africa. The selected startups for the cohort include a diverse array of innovators:

  • Aurora Health (Kenya) – Provides AI-based cardiovascular healthcare tools.
  • CropScan (Kenya) – Uses solar-powered smart farming IoT devices.
  • NextAI Studios (Kenya) – Builds AI-based emotion detection into toys for children’s mental healthcare.
  • RIM Nextgen (Kenya) – Uses smart tools for monitoring propane consumption.
  • Cure Bionics (Tunisia) – Makes smart 3D printed prosthetic arms.
  • DevisionX (Egypt) – Provides AI-based low-code computer vision tools.
  • Kalio (Cameroon) – Is building AI tools for Agricultural IoT.
  • Kitovu (Nigeria) – Provides tools and software for smart agricultural warehouse management.
  • Sparcx (South Africa) – Uses AI for enhancing radar signal processing.
  • Vizmerald (Tunisia) – Working on AI-based textile industry inspection.

Additionally, Qualcomm proudly announced the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund. Ecorich Solutions Limited, a female-founded enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya, was selected for its innovative smart organic food composter designed to tackle the dual challenges of organic waste management and sustainable agricultural practices. The funding from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative will enable Ecorich to scale its solutions to reduce environmental pollution, improve crop yields for farmers, and mitigate waste-related health risks in communities. Other participants from the 2023 cohort also received stipends to continue developing their projects, which range from enhancing child mental health through AI in toys to improving food security with smart agricultural warehouses.

In a statement, Alex Rogers, President of QTL & Global Affairs at Qualcomm Incorporated, expressed enthusiasm about the impact of the Africa Innovation Platform. “I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to the Africa Innovation Platform this year,” he remarked. “The quality and diversity of the applications received reflect the immense talent and potential within Africa’s technology ecosystem. We are excited to work with the shortlisted startups and provide them with the necessary resources and support to drive innovation and create a positive impact in their communities.”

Further enriching the support system for these burgeoning enterprises, Qualcomm has also progressed in developing the L2Pro Africa IP e-learning Platform. This online program, created in collaboration with Adams and Adams, Africa’s leading intellectual property law firm, is designed to empower startups, SMEs, and researchers to effectively protect and maximize their innovations. It includes updated educational content on individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs, and trademarks in several African countries, as well as comprehensive resources pertaining to two regional patent organizations, ARIPO and OAPI.

The enthusiasm for Qualcomm’s initiatives was echoed by John Omo, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), who commended Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform. “We applaud Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform, which not only equips the upcoming generation of African entrepreneurs with expertise in pivotal areas like AI/ML, healthcare, agri-tech, smart cities, and communications but also empowers them to safeguard their intellectual property through the complimentary L2ProAfrica program,” Omo stated. He further affirmed the ATU’s commitment: “Our youth innovation program, among other initiatives, plays a crucial role in cultivating the talents and aspirations of Africa’s young visionaries,” he said. “We are ready to collaborate with additional partners to realize this objective.”

As Qualcomm continues to push the boundaries of innovation and support the growth of Africa’s technological landscape, the Make in Africa program stands as a beacon of opportunity and development for the continent’s aspiring technologists and entrepreneurs.


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