Five South African startups picked for French incubator programme

13 September 2017 2 min. read
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Five South African tech startups have been selected to travel to France to participate in an incubator programme for promising new enterprises. The week-long Young Enterprise Initiative (YEI) acceleration programme, which takes place in November, is sponsored by professional services firm PwC.

Based in France, the YEI allows selected start-ups to travel to France for the accelerator programme, where the companies go through training, attend ad-hoc business-to-business (B2B) meetings with technical and business partners, and are granted incubator support for upto a year to ensure that the development goals are met. After the success of YEI USA and YEI Italy, YEI South Africa is the third programme of its kind, launched in 2016.

This year, five start-up firms have been selected from South Africa to participate in the programme alongside 25 others from the US, Taiwan and Italy. The five selected firms are: Cape Ray Medical, who are based in Cape Town and focus on Breast Imaging Technology to detect breast cancer; Altis Biologics, who focus on bio-materials used in skeletal regeneration; Cocos Solutions, who are Cape-Town-based developers of anti-icing and anti-pollution nano coating that is relevant for the energy industry; Mellow cabs, an electric micro-cab service; and Kebalepile TS, developers of a hand-held Asthma alert kit.

YEI France

The finalists were selected by a committee consisting of representatives from the French Embassy, South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency, and a range of consultancy and investment firms. On the criteria for selection, the Innovation Manager at the French Embassy in South Africa said, “The five finalists stood out because they were at a stage where they were quite mature with regards to proof of concept and market readiness. Their technology is also at a world-class level and they are trying to address global issues which is really interesting. They also portrayed a real need for research and development partnerships”

France is rapidly becoming an innovation hub with programmes such as the French Tech Ticket competition and YEI encouraging firms all over the world to push their innovative efforts. In particular, France appears to be bolstering its alliances with South Africa, having named Cape Town the French Tech Hub in January 2016, and the Digital Lab Africa in June of the same year.

Among the sponsors for YEI are Big Four accounting and consulting firm PwC who will provide their support and expertise in advising startups. The firm has an accelerator programme of its own, which seeks to help new enterprises accelerate the process of revenue generation and integration with the global markets. Other parties involved in the programme include the TIA and its subsidiaries such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Department of Trade and Industry, who hope to cement partnerships between French and South African Firms over the course of the week-long programme.