JOHANNESBURG - N edbank recently announced the expansion of their US partnership with Plug and Play, the world’s largest innovation platform, to include South Africa for the first time.

Together, the entities will connect 10 visionary entrepreneurs from around the world to business leaders at The Disruption Agenda to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in September.

“We’re incredibly excited for the ten startups that are going to be part of The Disruption Agenda. The most important thing for Nedbank is to get pilots and experiments underway and push straight through to commercialisation where possible,” states Stuart van der Veen, Head of Disruption and Innovation at Nedbank CIB. “We’ve engaged with our most forward-thinking clients and they will be participating in both the deal-flow sessions and be present at the actual pitches of the startups.”

Nedbank initiated their relationship with Plug and Play, described as the ultimate matchmaking machine between startups and corporates, two years ago as a sponsor of the global FinTech programme. Startups selected to engage at The Disruption Agenda represent both African and global startups from across industry sectors.

Startups selected for The Disruption Agenda

1. Koniku: Starts with the premise that biology is the most advanced technology on earth. Their belief is that Bio is Tech™. Koniku builds living machines with synthetic biology. Machines which can detect fake food, design taste, detect explosives, infectious diseases, cancers and more. Nature is our open source library. Currently the company grafts custom proteins which act sensors on living cells – neurons - and encapsulate them within a silicon chip. The chips – Koniku Kore’s - will one day power the next generation of cognitive robots – synthetic cognition.

2. Airware: Airware is the leading enterprise drone analytics company helping enterprises leverage today’s rapidly advancing technologies (such as drones, cloud computing, machine learning and more) to safely see and sense their sites and structures to improve productivity, mitigate risks, and take workers out of harm’s way. Airware enables enterprises to harness aerial data and turn it into valuable business insights that can be shared and acted on across sites, teams, and geographies. Their solutions enable enterprises to reinvent their organizations for the digital era by translating aerial data into business impact.

3. Sentiance: Sentiance analyses sensor data to understand human behaviour and context so clients can develop new products and services that turn the Internet of Things (IoT) into the Internet of You. Sentiance context intelligence enables solutions for lifestyle-based insurance, contextual marketing and commerce, smart mobility, connected health, smart home, smart city and connected car.
 
4. LifeQ: LifeQ implements a unique multidisciplinary approach underpinned by in-depth knowledge and understanding of human physiology and systems biology to extract and deliver relevant and meaningful person-specific digital biomarkers from various curated data sources. They are a world-leading science and technology company that want people from all walks of life to enjoy optimal health. LifeQ generates, and makes available, high-value personalized health information and solutions, which would traditionally be inaccessible or only obtainable through costly, invasive and inaccessible means, at a reliability level suitable for use by individuals, businesses, and clinical providers.

5. Wasteless: Wasteless is the world’s first machine-learning solution with real-time tracking for grocery stores looking to offer customers dynamic pricing based on a product’s expiration date. Wasteless takes machine learning capabilities used online and brings them to Brick and Mortar outlets. Tracking products at the item level, automating manual processes, and applying dynamic pricing have been the foundation of successful e-commerce platforms enabling them to substantially increase their profits. Wasteless allows supermarkets to close the gap and compete in the digital era.

6. Trueface AI: Trueface computer vision solutions augment any existing camera feed into intelligent, actionable data capable of identifying persons-of-interest, objects and more. Trueface AI provides facial recognition and spoof detection solutions for clients of all sizes. It provides an API, on-premise solution and a no-code solution for identity management. The Trueface mission is to educate on the benefits of computer vision and make it accessible for businesses looking for more unique and secure solutions.

7. Aerobotics: Aerobotics provides farmers around the world with world-leading pest and disease management systems for tree crop protection using drone and satellite data. Aerobotics’ software, Aeroview, empowers Tree Crop Farmers to identify early stage problems in their orchards. Used in conjunction with the Aerobotics’ Aeroview Scout App on their smartphone, farmers are able to locate problem areas on a tree-by-tree basis. Achieving success for over 6 million trees to-date, Aerobotics is setting the standard for tree crop analytics globally and innovating the agricultural processes as we know them.

8. What3Words: What3Words is a universal addressing system provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. They have divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3-word address. Better addressing can enhance customer experience, deliver business efficiency, drive growth and support social and economic development. It was the first system designed for voice and human interaction with machines.

9. Dispel: Dispel makes cloaking technology, rendering networked infrastructure and endpoints invisible and segmented, stopping attackers from gaining actionable knowledge usable in a cyberattack. Dispel cloaking is a secure overlay network in which applications can be deployed, or around which infrastructure can be concealed. They accomplish this cloaking through network-level Moving Target Defense: an orchestrated mass-virtualization and encryption technology designed to disrupt attacker's operations. An offensive, moving target defence stops attacks well ahead of older technologies. Dispel has established an industry-leading security program, ensuring customers have a high degree of confidence and trust in their stewardship of customer data and operations.

10. IoT.nxt: IoT.nxt has developed a world-leading framework that makes efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT (Internet of Things) a reality for businesses. The IoT.nxt platform allows rapid deployment and businesses to action an Internet of Things strategy with little disruption to current operations.

The major strength of the IoT.nxt framework is that the solution is technology-agnostic. They can help digitise any industry, any system and any process. IoT.nxt lays the foundation for rapid digitisation, creating agile, efficient, future-proofed businesses. They’ll help you create an interconnected, interoperable ecosystem without disrupting your business.

“Some of the best startups in the world, when it comes to disruption, exist right here in South Africa. LifeQ, IoT.nxt and Aerobotics are proudly South African startups that will be participants in the event,” adds van der Veen, “one of the founders of Koniku is Nigerian who is now based in Berkeley in the United States. They’re the world’s first neurocomputation company, so essentially looking at neurons and genetically editing them to be able to detect small traces of substances, for example, explosives, illicit materials and even disease, anything a dog’s nose can sense.”

Aerobotics is a Cape Town-based but global startup, now focusing on drone analytics, looking at agriculture and tree crops. So, from the startups attending The Disruption Agenda, we see massive value for clients as well as for the ecosystem at large.”

The 10 startups attending The Disruption Agenda are from across the globe, with half based in Silicon Valley, but their solutions are all applicable to the African continent.

A Word From the Startups

"Africa deserves access to cutting-edge technology like everywhere else. Imagine being able to screen for any illness by breath alone. Personal and population health data at your fingertips using volatile organic compounds produced by the body, ” comments Oshiorenoya Agabi, founder and CEO of Koniku. “At Koniku we believe any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. Using synthetic biology, we can build from the same building blocks as nature.”

“At LifeQ we saw the opportunity to leverage physiological data by bridging the gap between insights generated from limited access to expensive medical grade outputs and the easily accessible inexpensive consumable devices with their low efficacy outputs,” adds Dylan Garnett, COO of LifeQ, “I am very excited that LifeQ has been selected for Plug and Play as it will undoubtedly serve as a great platform to help identify and, along with others, address real needs that exist in South Africa and the broader African continent, thereby furthering LifeQ's vision of improving human health and wellbeing at scale.”

The solutions built by these young innovators each demonstrate the importance of using tech to future-proof not only businesses but human lives, and how critical disruption across every industry is.

Sentiance carries the company goal "Improving people’s lives using AI”. The technology is used today to help people live a healthier life and, amongst others, to reduce accidents. Our insights can be used by our customers to engage with their users and to improve their daily lives. Healthcare and insurance providers can, for example, provide lifestyle coaching and also detect and predict heart arrhythmia. Mobility and automotive companies can provide driver coaching and increase road safety and more. The Sentiance platform allows companies to engage with their end-users in a privacy-aware manner, at right time in the right moment, thereby improving the user’s quality of life and assisting in day to day tasks,” states Oliver Bath, Head of Client Services at Sentiance .

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE