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Showcasing African Innovation

7 September 2019

A flagship conference on Cape Town’s annual events calendar, the SA Innovation Summit is a platform for nurturing, developing and showcasing African innovation. Created to support and promote innovation and facilitate collaboration, the initiative brings together corporates, thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, academia and policy makers to amplify South Africa’s competitive edge and to inspire sustained economic growth across the continent. We caught up with SA Innovation Summit chair, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, for a quick Q&A about the event.

What is the aim of the summit?

The Summit aims to drive meaningful change through innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as facilitate innovation thought-leadership. Our effort goes toward enabling tech entrepreneurs. They are the only ones able to leapfrog systematic change to alleviate poverty, drive inclusiveness while meeting Industry 4.0 head-on. In essence, the Summit is a glue-maker. We bring international investors, international tech entrepreneurs to collaborate, to co-create, to work, connect, do business deals with national and international tech entrepreneurs. That’s our role. We are a super hero connector.

Why did you choose Cape Town as the host city?

Cape Town is the tech and innovation hub of Africa. There is a collaborative force in Cape Town that you won’t find in anywhere else in the country. Cape Town offers a space that is connected. Organisations like Silicon Cape and Wesgro play a huge role that the rest of SA is undervaluing. I think people underestimate what connectivity does for the eco system – Cape Town has it and understands it.

Why should people attend the summit?

If you are a tech start-up, entrepreneur or academic, it’s the place to be. You can connect and network with entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and the world. There’s so much to learn and a lot of dealmaking taking place. We have panel discussions, competitions, showcases and a big focus on female entrepreneurship. Female entrepreneurship in Africa is blossoming.

How does the SA Innovation Summit compare with other similar summits around the world?

We are making our presence known in Africa, but the world’s biggest startup event remains the Helsinki Slush, which attracts over 17 000 people. The SA Innovation Summit attracts about 1 000 people a day with attendees from 19 countries across the world.  Tech entrepreneurship is not as strong on the continent as we would like it to be, but we will get there.

Your thoughts on Cape Town as a globally competitive business destination?

Cape Town is a serious contender, people want to do business in the city. You find the right talent here, there are so many success stories and the tech industry is booming. The City of Cape Town and Silicon Cape recently released a IT sector/start-up brochure. I am yet to receive such a comprehensive and cohesive infographic from any other city in South Arica. Cape Town is investing in the right knowledge products that empower entrepreneurs and investors. Cape Town also has good coffee, and as you know, where there is good coffee there’s innovation and some of the best tech entrepreneurs.

For more information:

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