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ENRICH in Africa - A Multi-sided Platform Business Model for supporting the EU-African Innovation Community.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EiA (ENRICH in Africa - A Multi-sided Platform Business Model for supporting the EU-African Innovation Community.)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-12-31

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on developing the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, and the European Commission, African Union and individual European and African organisations have been active in developing a number of initiatives. In this context, various challenges have been identified that not only concern the African but also the European ecosystem and impede economic growth.

The African entrepreneurial ecosystem tends to work in a silo structure with fewer resources, expanded community and access to core infrastructure compared to Europe. Within the European landscape on the other hand, there is a lack of individualised support for a diverse ecosystem and a lack of general standardisation of practices impeding start-up success.

ENRICH in Africa addresses these challenges by strengthening the capacity of innovation players in both regions and supporting the transfer and internationalisation of technologies and know-how. The project promotes sustainable economic growth, also addressing the gender gap in entrepreneurship. It connects the European and African innovation ecosystems and gives visibility to European organisations and activities in Africa.

The overarching aim of the ENRICH in Africa project is to promote EU-Africa exchange and cooperation to the mutual benefit of both regions.
To achieve this aim, various specific objectives have been defined for the project:
- To create a sustainable business support network, the EiA Centre, that connects existing and future innovation networks across the EU and Africa, for the purpose of creating community, enhancing innovation capacity, and raising visibility of entrepreneurs to leverage further local market support,
- To establish a network of incubators and accelerators across the EU and Africa, called ‘Champions’, which will be offered capacity upgrading, community, mentoring, and twinning, thus enhancing the overarching innovation landscape and cooperation between the two regions,
- To provide advice, soft-landing, and internationalisation and local market exploration development support services to innovators through the EiA Champions network.
- To build upon existing networks and initiatives in order to best exploit collaboration potential and currently untapped synergies,
- To create a standard quality assurance system for Champions,
- To provide dedicated services to stimulate and facilitate co-creation and knowledge across the innovation ecosystem.
The Champions application process has been successfully finalised and implemented with 17 new applications received by the end of Dec 2021. Furthermore, the EiA Centre host location has been selected and the job descriptions for the Centre staff completed.
During several workshop sessions, the EiA Centre’s vision, mission, customer discovery, key customer segmentation and value proposition were defined. Discussions have been held regarding the legal entity type, the timeline and organisation of the entity set-up, and the governance structure.
Research on the innovation landscape in Africa has been conducted and a large report created, which considers a full view on the African ecosystem, including policy structures, public and private investments, start-up landscape and data for evaluating success in the environment.
Concerning support services to innovators, a unified methodology to implement EiA advisory services has been developed and the yearly KPI of 50 advisories reached.
Through the Bees soft-landing programme powered by EiA, 10 African innovators had the opportunity to spend a month in Paris and explore the local ecosystem. A further 40 innovators gained licenses for the EiA virtual acceleration programme, offered in collaboration with project partners, Startupbootcamp. This programme provides access to the Accelerator Squared platform, allowing users to start their learning journey through a blend of online learning and digital tools.
With regard to incubators and accelerators, significant progress has been made in the planning and development of capacity building materials and providing the groundwork for the EiA Champions network. A detailed learning journey has been developed including the bootcamp and the virtual academy, identifying key learning and developmental opportunities. The journey was kicked off with a session at the first Champions Gathering.
To ensure proper promotion of the project and the EiA Centre, a dissemination, communication and outreach plan has been drafted. Based on this, a branding kit and various promotional materials have been developed including a project brochure, a roll-up and newsletter templates. Social media accounts have been set up and are used to inform about project activities, interact with other projects and initiatives and gain feedback from stakeholders- these channels have been particularly successful in gaining traction.
The first Annual Congress has been organised and held in a hybrid format in Cape Town, South Africa with more than 80 attendees from Africa and Europe. Furthermore, EiA was represented at various events such as the Africa European Innovation Partnership’s final event and several meetings with the ENRICH community.
The EiA project page (https://enrich-in-africa-project.eu/) has been developed and published. Furthermore, planning and analyses for the development of the EiA Centre website has advanced considerably in this reporting period. Linked to this, the EiA Community on EuroQuity has been set up, various members onboarded, and specific labels developed. It is updated with content regularly and has 257 members by the end of 2021. Discussions have been had on how to integrate the EiA Community on EuroQuity, as well as the Agorize tool for Open Innovation Challenges, in the EiA Centre platform.
EiA has already supported and will continue to support African and European innovators on their growth journey. One remarkable success story can be told for one of the laureates of the Bees soft-landing programme powered by EiA: the African start-up Salubata won $100,000 in the YouthADAPT competition jointly run by the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation in the frame of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26).
With the upcoming Open Innovation Challenges, soft landing programme, acceleration programme, advisory services, learning expeditions and entrepreneurial support programmes, EiA will provide further opportunities for European and African innovators to develop their businesses and promote sustainable economic growth.
A key element of EiA is to upgrade capacity of European and African incubators and accelerators and build a strong network to promote knowledge sharing and best practice exchange. By adding further Champions to the EiA network, the cross-continental community will grow, to the benefit of both ecosystems. With the Centre platform, which forms the digital backbone of ENRICH in Africa, a one-of-a-kind hub is being developed, which will serve as a one-stop-shop for all things EU-Africa innovation cooperation.
EiA is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Goals: it promotes gender equality e.g. through an open innovation challenge aimed specifically at female entrepreneurs, supports sustainable economic growth by enabling capacity building and knowledge sharing of incubators and accelerators and strengthens EU-Africa cooperation and partnership.
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