BY Fast Company 4 MINUTE READ

This year’s Summit is taking place in Cape Town at the Mount Nelson Hotel from 21 – 23 September 2021

South Africa has a thriving tech ecosystem that attracts investors from all over the globe making it an exciting time to be a tech entrepreneur. Just last year the tech startup sector in Cape Town attracted more than R1.2 billion in investment. This makes the Mother City one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world for foreign investment in a tech industry, cementing itself as the tech hub of Africa. With the unemployment rate the highest it’s ever been, investment into growing young businesses is crucial. Not only does technology have an incredible ability to transform our economy it can also create jobs and boost our growth.

The 2021 Innovation Summit is the biggest startup event of its kind in Africa. It attracts over 150 local and global venture capital and angel investors who are seeking investment opportunities. This year’s Summit is taking place in Cape Town at the Mount Nelson Hotel from 21 – 23 September 2021. As a hybrid event, it will host early-stage entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, professionals at leading corporations, and industry thought leaders and is expecting 1500 participants online with small distributed events across Cape Town .

Tech entrepreneurs looking to scale, but are lacking capital, skills, or markets to tap into will have the chance to pitch to investors in a match and invest platform, learn from industry leaders through various masterclasses and workshops, and get the chance to network through pitch battles and the on-line platform as well as the ‘Match and Invest’ area. The Pitching Den finalists in Fem-in-Tech, Africa Cup and the Inventors Garage have been shortlisted and are being showcased as a pipeline to investors and entrepreneurial enabling organisations.

“The ideal for any startup is to scale and grow not only within South Africa but also globally. It is necessary for both job creation and for our economy. Since launching in 2007 we’ve supported entrepreneurs by offering platforms to connect, be skilled, mentored, and provided with funding opportunities, which has contributed to several famous startups such as HearX and Wi-Group. Just last year, twenty women from SEDA’s Fem-In-Tech acceleration programme, which is aimed to support women-owned businesses, raised R40m in investments during and after the Summit due to the exposure we gave them. The winner of the Africa Cup, PricePally, were able to raise their series A round. Our work contributes but ultimately the honours go to the entrepreneur that pulls through the deals. Our role is to connect, showcase and capacitate. “Says Audrey Verhaeghe, SAIS Chairperson.

With most investors originating from Silicon Valley in the USA and Europe, there has been a steady increase in more investors coming from Africa and South Africa. One of the early-stage investors taking part this year is Cape Town based, Newtown Partners. They are an early-stage venture capital firm founded and run by internationally successful entrepreneurs, Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen. Claasen will also be speaking at the Summit about corporate venture capital.

The three-day event will host forty-eight industry leaders who will impart their knowledge and skills. Talks not to be missed include:

Llew Claasen from Newton Partners will moderate a panel on corporate venture capital. Unpacking the lessons learnt by corporate VC funds.

Ilari Lindy, who is lead expert at the Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAISP). His panel discussion is entitled ‘Expanding Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in the SADC Region’ followed by Budzanani Tacheba, who is the Director of Innovation and Technology at the Botswana Innovation Hub Support Instruments for Expanding into New Markets.

Natalie Miller, who is the co-founder of XRGlobal. Her topic is ‘Re-Imagining Training Through Virtual Reality’.

TypeDEV will talk about ‘How to map the digital journey of your business’ and ensure that your website, platform or App attracts customers, keeps them and drives sales.

Other highlights are in the Founder’s toolkit stream, these include:

Drones. A Billion Dollar Industry – Is South Africa Missing Out?; Transforming Africa Through Blockchain Technology; The SAFE Note – A Good Deal for Founders & Investors; Scaling to 100 Million – The Do’s & Don’ts; Set-up Your Venture to Scale; Conscious Exit Strategies; 8-Steps to Digital Marketing Success; Using AI To Build Inclusive Solutions; Steps to Take Before Entering the Market; India FinTech – Building for a Billion, and Beyond; Support Instruments for Expanding into New Markets; Blockchain for Enterprises; Conscious Sales – For People Who Want to Sell More Without Feeling Awkward.

Taking this year’s theme, Expanding Horizons, further through the startup pavilions that will be showcased virtually. You will find The Embassy of Brazil showcasing top agri startups and information about the Brazilian innovation ecosystem. The Innovation Hub will be showcasing their programmes and top startups. Startup Estonia will be showcasing 10 of their top startups. Together with this, these partners will also share information on soft-landing programmes and support offered to startups. The DTIC will be showcasing the Inventors garage for early stage startups.

With an incredible lineup of speakers, investors, and some of the best startups all under one roof, the Summit is set to deliver much needed investment funding, as well as offer support and networking opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to further grow their businesses. Due to the pandemic the Innovation Summit has made it far easier for even more people to attend through their virtual offering. While just 250 tickets are available for the distributed physical event at the Mount Nelson Hotel and around Cape Town, there are unlimited tickets available to watch and participate online.

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