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Emerging Tech

AI startups dominate Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024 shortlist

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Six out of the ten startups shortlisted in the Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024 mentorship program are related to artificial intelligence (AI), as the trend of AI adoption continues to impact many sectors.

Qualcomm Incorporated announced the shortlisted startups for its 2024 program and the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund, which will support one of its 2023 startups to scale its societal and market impact.

The Qualcomm Africa Innovation Platform, now in its second year, aims to work with and support the development of Africa's emerging technology ecosystem by providing mentorship, education and training programs with a focus on 5G, Edge-AI and machine learning (ML), compute and Internet of things (IoT).

Applications for the 2024 program opened in December 2023 and Qualcomm said it received around 250 applications from 30 countries.

"The quality and diversity of the applications received reflect the immense talent and potential within Africa's technology ecosystem. We are excited to work with the shortlisted startups and provide them with the necessary resources and support to drive innovation and create a positive impact in their communities," said Alex Rogers, president of Qualcomm technology licensing (QTL) and global affairs at Qualcomm Incorporated.

The equity-free mentorship program identifies promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware.

The selected startups will receive free mentorship, business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property.

AI innovators shine

The use of AI is much stronger in this year's group compared to the 2023 cohort.

AI technology is being used by the chosen startups across sectors like healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and aerospace. One company is even using AI-based emotion detection in toys for children's mental health.

The 2024 shortlist includes:

  • Aurora Health, from Kenya, provides AI-based cardiovascular health care tools

  • CropScan, from Kenya, uses solar-powered smart farming IoT devices

  • Cure Bionics, from Tunisia, makes smart 3D-printed prosthetic arms

  • DevisionX, from Egypt, provides AI-based low-code computer vision tools

  • Kalio, from Cameroon, is building AI tools for agricultural IoT

  • Kitovu, from Nigeria, provides tools and software for smart agricultural warehouse management

  • NextAI Studios, from Kenya, builds AI-based emotion detection into toys for children's mental healthcare

  • RIM Nextgen, from Kenya, uses smart tools for monitoring propane consumption

  • Sparcx, from South Africa, uses AI for enhancing radar signal processing

  • Vizmerald, from Tunisia, is working on AI-based textile industry inspection

    Support for 2023 startups continues

    Qualcomm also awarded the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund to Ecorich Solutions, a female-founded organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, which will be given funding to help scale the impact of its smart organic food composter.

    The fund – provided through the Qualcomm Wireless Reach Initiative – will support Ecorich to address the dual challenge of organic waste management and the need for sustainable agricultural practices, with the goal of reducing environmental pollution, improving crop yields for farmers, and mitigating waste-related health risks for communities.

    The other nine startups from the 2023 cohort will also receive valuable stipends to continue fueling their growth.

    The startups shortlisted for the Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024 mentorship program come from Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa.   (Source: DC Studio on Freepik)
    The startups shortlisted for the Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024 mentorship program come from Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa.
    (Source: DC Studio on Freepik)

    "We applaud Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform, which not only equips the upcoming generation of African entrepreneurs with expertise in pivotal areas like AI/ML, healthcare, agri-tech, smart cities, and communications but also empowers them to safeguard their intellectual property through the complimentary L2ProAfrica program," John Omo, secretary general, African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said in a statement about the program.

    The L2Pro Africa IP e-learning Platform was created last year in collaboration with intellectual property (IP) law firm Adams and Adams.

    The free online training program was designed to empower startups, SMEs and researchers in Africa to protect, secure and maximize their innovations.

    Follow Connecting Africa on our new X account @connect__africa to get the latest telecoms and tech news across Africa.

    Qualcomm said the L2Pro Africa website's content has now been updated with individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs and trademarks in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda and within the two African patent organizations, ARIPO and OAPI.

    "These step-by-step descriptions of per-country filing requirements empower inventors to interact effectively with IP professionals such as an IP attorney and their respective IP offices," Qualcomm explained.

    Related posts:

    *Top image source: DC Studio on Freepik.

    — Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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