A new sustainable business and digital hub for innovation stakeholders from across Africa and Europe has begun operation in Cape Town, South Africa. Called the EiA Centre, the hub has been launched as an outcome of the EU-funded EiA project aimed at supporting and strengthening the innovation ecosystem on the two continents.
The launch of the EiA Centre was announced at the annual EiA congress held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2022. The congress was attended by senior-level decision-makers, incubator and accelerator experts, business executives, start-ups and SMEs, as well as African and European corporate investors who came together to discuss a mutual future of innovation through cooperation.
The EiA Centre is centralised through an online digital platform and provides a digital meeting space for various innovation stakeholders. Users are required to register on the platform to gain access to a variety of cutting-edge services.
As reported in a news item posted on the project website, these include services tailored for incubators and accelerators in Europe and Africa through a Champions membership programme as well as targeted programmes for entrepreneurs, such as Open Innovation Challenges and soft-landing opportunities. The EiA project brings together 12 partners from five European countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Austria and Portugal) and four African countries (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania).
“We are thrilled to be able to work with such a strong group of partners to add additional value to the innovation ecosystem of Europe and Africa,” states EiA Centre director Eduardo Herrmann of Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, Germany, in the news item. Steinbeis Europa Zentrum is an umbrella brand consisting of three partners, one of which is EiA project coordinator Steinbeis 2i.
“There is such a great amount of work already taking place in this space, but we see a real value in being able to raise the capacity of such actors as well as connect the two regions to each other,” Herrmann goes on to say.
The two South Africa-based consortium partners chosen to host the EiA Centre are start-up accelerator Startupbootcamp AfriTech and international innovation group Methys.
Methys CEO Christophe Viarnaud, also an EiA Centre director, remarks: “Methys is very pleased to have been chosen, jointly with our long-time partner Startupbootcamp AfriTech, to host in Cape Town the head office of ENRICH in Africa Centre. Together we will, thanks to the grant from the European Commission and the platform of partnerships we have been building over the years, work relentlessly to build together a common business around technology partnerships, open innovation and soft-landing for African entrepreneurs in Europe and European entrepreneurs in Africa. We look forward to continuing to amplify our work to support our ecosystem.”
The EiA Centre was founded by four consortium partners, the previously mentioned Methys, Startupbootcamp and Steinbeis Europa Zentrum as well as Portuguese consulting firm Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação. The EiA (ENRICH in Africa – A Multi-sided Platform Business Model for supporting the EU-African Innovation Community.) project ends in December 2023.