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Bar for tech entrepreneurs raised at Innovation Summit 2021

Buntu Majaja, Director of Digital Innovation and Ecosystems at the SA Innovation Summit, and Audrey Verhaeghe, SA Innovation Summit Chairperson. Picture: Supplied

Buntu Majaja, Director of Digital Innovation and Ecosystems at the SA Innovation Summit, and Audrey Verhaeghe, SA Innovation Summit Chairperson. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 28, 2021


Cape Town – The main trends that emerged at the three-day Innovation Summit in the Mother City were women in tech, future technologies and green innovation technology, with more entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in these sectors.

From empowering women through virtual reality training to using drones in the fight against rhino poaching; blockchain-enabled farm-to-fork supply chain platforms; 3D printing technology for biodegradable drinking cups; and a first-of-its-kind structure to support and incentivise funding to small green businesses – the Green Outcome Fund.

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The bar for tech innovation was set high as investors, industry experts and entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe joined the he biggest tech start-up event of its kind in Africa’s first-ever three-day hybrid event in Cape Town last week.

The summit embraced a ’’new normal’’, with some delegates physically participating in panel discussions, pitch dens and investors garage demo days at the hotel, with others clicking in and out of virtual meeting rooms to meet up with potential investors, attend a workshop or listen to fire-side chats and master classes.

Some of the highlights at the event were Llew Claasen from Newton Partners moderating a panel discussing corporate venture capital, unpacking the lessons learnt by corporate VC funds; Natalie Miller, who is the co-founder of XRGlobal, discussing ’’Re-Imagining Training Through Virtual Reality’’; TypeDEV gave an interesting talk about ’’How to map the digital journey of your business’’ and ensure that your website, platform or App attracts customers, keeps them and drives sales.

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This year the summit attracted over 150 local and global venture capital and angel investors as well as around 1 500 early-stage entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, professionals at leading corporations, industry thought leaders and 48 industry expert speakers.

A hot topic, as always, was access to funding, with SAP Africa’s Cathy Smith urging corporates to support start-ups in her opening address. She highlighted that the common reasons for failure were misreading the market demand and running out of funding.

The master class on SAFE notes shed light on how start-ups without any trading history can access funding.

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“It’s been very encouraging to see that every year the deals are getting bigger with more investment coming from within the African continent.

Audrey Verhaeghe, the SAIS chairperson, said: ’’The deals are also happening more during the early stages of the tech start-ups’ journey, which is when it’s very much needed.

’’SAFE note investments are by far the most popular way our entrepreneurs at the summit are getting funding. It’s such a good deal for both founders and investors.”

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Finalists went head-to-head at the Summit’s Pitching Den, while Fem-in-Tech, Africa Cup and the Inventors Garage finalists showcased their pitches to investors and entrepreneurial enabling organisations.

The winners were:


  • 1st place- LiquidGold
  • 2nd place – CIRT Q-HOP
  • 3rd place- Brarmode Egypt


  • 1st place – Karma Science
  • 2nd place – VideoMed
  • 3rd place – Marula Charcoal

The Inventors Garage Facebook Competition Winner was MAFATS App


  • The top 3 start-ups – Memeza Shout, Creditais, and Four Minute Knowledge
  • The recipient of the von Seidels prize will be communicated at a later stage.

The winners of all the competitions each received a brand audit and IP registrations to the value of R20 000 courtesy of Von Seidels as well as cash prizes of R120 000 to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

The top 3 start-ups in the Africa Cup each won the full Financial Modelling for Entrepreneurs course series, as well as the Opportunity Assessment for Entrepreneurs and Innovators course from the Moolman Institute to the value of R6 100 each, with each finalist receiving a 50% discount on the course.

The All Africa Cup finalists also walked away with eCommerce training of between 10 to 15 hours from the Creativity Development Centre in Lebanon.

All competition winners and finalists also received access to Amazon Web Services’- startup programme called Activate, with up to $5 000 Activate Credits and two years and also business and technical support of up to one year valued at $1 500.

Other highlights were in the Founder’s toolkit stream, these include:

Drones. A Billion Dollar Industry – Is South Africa Missing Out?; Transforming Africa Through Blockchain Technology; The SAFE Note – A Good Deal for Founders & Investors; Scaling to 100 Million – The Do’s & Don’ts; Set-up Your Venture to Scale; Conscious Exit Strategies; 8-Steps to Digital Marketing Success; Using AI To Build Inclusive Solutions; Steps to Take Before Entering the Market; India FinTech - Building for a Billion, and Beyond; Blockchain for Enterprises; Conscious sales for People Who Want to Sell More Without Feeling Awkward.

They say it takes an ecosystem to raise a start-up. Over three days, the ecosystem came together, made plans, networked and supported each other. Entrepreneurs can continue the journey by becoming a member of the Innovation Summit Tech Tribe Community.

To find out more about this year’s Summit and all the speakers and winners, please go to