Innovation Summit 2021 showcases SA’s top tech entrepreneurs

27 October 2021 News

The bar for tech innovation was set high when investors, industry experts and entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe joined the Innovation Summit’s first ever three-day hybrid event, held at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town from 21-23 September. Embracing a new normal with some delegates, judges and speakers physically participating in panel discussions, pitch dens and inventors garage demo days at the hotel, this year’s event allowed others to click in and out of virtual meeting rooms to match-and-invest sessions, to attend a workshop, or listen to fireside chats and masterclasses.

The 2021 Innovation Summit is the biggest tech startup event of its kind in Africa. This year it attracted over 150 local and global venture capital and angel investors as well as some 1500 early-stage entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, professionals at leading corporations, industry thought leaders and 48 industry expert speakers.

Trends emerging at the summit were notably women in tech, future technologies and green innovation technology, with more entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in these spaces. 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.

Access to funding was another big topic that many speakers addressed, with SAP Africa’s Cathy Smith urging corporates to support startups in her opening address on Tuesday morning. She said that the common reasons for failure were misreading the market demand and running out of funding. Early-stage startups are often not able to qualify for investment from angel investors or venture capitalists, which is why the masterclass on SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) notes was very well received. It shed light on how startups without any trading history can access funding.

“It’s been very encouraging to see that every year the deals are getting bigger with more investment coming from within the African continent. The deals are also happening more during the early stages of the tech startups’ 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,” said Audrey Verhaeghe, South African Innovation Summit (SAIS) chairperson.

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

The winners were as follows:

Africa Cup

• 1st place: LiquidGold.

• 2nd place: CIRT Q-HOP.

• 3rd place: Brarmode Egypt.

Inventors Garage

• 1st place: Karma Science.

• 2nd place: VideoMed.

• 3rd place: Marula Charcoal.

• Inventors Garage Facebook competition winner: MAFATS App.


• The top three 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 each competition 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 DTIC. The top three 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 R6100 each, with each finalist receiving a 50% discount on the course.

All Africa Cup finalists also walked away with e-commerce training of 10-15 hours from the Creativity Development Centre in Lebanon. This includes business model and introduction to e-commerce, how to prepare posters and flyers for social media, how to manage websites and finally how to prepare a campaign on social media.

All competition winners and finalists also received access to Amazon Web Services’ startup programme called Activate with up to $5000 Activate credits and two years and business and technical support of up to one year valued at $1500. The Activate programme is designed for startups and early-stage entrepreneurs and provides AWS credits, AWS Support credits, training credits, exclusive offers, go-to-market support and more.

As they say, it takes an ecosystem to raise a startup. 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, go to

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