Meet 17 African Startups Finalists in Space-Tech Challenge 2020

17 African startups have been selected for the Space-Tech Challenge 2020, which aims to develop the most promising new innovators, entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses in the space-tech sector across Africa.

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Space-Tech applications use earth observation to gather information about the physical, chemical and biological systems of the planet via remote-sensing technologies. Such tech has seen a surge in demand for these applications across a wide range of industries.

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The Space-Tech Challenge will identify and develop startups in this space, specifically targeting downstream space-tech applications across agriculture, insurance, retail, sustainability and conservation.

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Seventeen finalists have been selected to progress to the next stage of the challenge, which will see them undergo an intensive two-week business development support programme. This will be followed by a pitching den where startups will present their solutions to a panel of judges and industry representatives.

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Winners, meanwhile, will receive four months of online incubation and virtual mentorship, and ongoing access to a peer-to-peer network through TechTribe.

The overall winner will win a SecureWatch Premium 5GB, valid for three months to the value of US$12,500, while there are also smaller prizes for second and third place. All three will have the chance to directly pitch their idea to a MAXAR representative.

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The finalists include nine from South Africa, including digital mapping startup Abiri, built environment and tech-focused startup Sturtium, geospatial data science company Hydro Blu, cloud based digitisation and farm management platform Smart AgrIoT, and natural disaster mapping solution Risk Response.

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Also from South Africa are UpFarm, which provides farmers with technology that can help them produce food in a sustainable way; Contre IPC, which uses earth observation data to track and recover stolen household content; and ABCD Electricity, which uses solar irradiance data to estimate the electricity production capabilities of new PV installations.

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The South African Space Technology for Sustainable Development Foundation, a non-profit organisation, is also selected.

Two finalists are from Nigeria, in the form of agribusiness-focused geographic information systems (GIS) mapping provider FieldDev, and Agro Data, which optimises tropical farming with the application of technologies.

Rwanda is also represented by two companies, namely HeHe, a post-harvest platform that uses remote sensing technology to forecast supply and consumer data to forecast demand and allocate logistics resources, and FloodWiz, which provides easy-to-use data on flood patterns to assist with disaster management.

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The list is completed by Botswanan environmental and geospatial consultancy firm Green Aces; Zambia’s Fourth Line, an agribusiness that handles product distribution for smallholder bee farmers; and Russia’s GeoAlert, an AI-powered mapping platform.

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