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Showcasing African Innovation

19 September 2021

A flagship conference on Cape Town’s annual events calendar, the SA Innovation Summit takes place from 21 – 23 September 2021. Created to support and promote innovation and facilitate collaboration, the hybrid event brings together corporates, thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, academia and policy makers to amplify Africa’s competitive edge and to inspire sustained economic growth across the continent. We caught up with SA Innovation Summit chair, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, for a quick Q&A on hosting the event in the COVID era.

What can people expect this year?

Variety. This year, for the first time, the summit is spread across multiple venues in the city. The main venue is the Mount Nelson Hotel, where we expect 250 in-person attendees. It promises to be a dynamic event. Startups from across the continent will be able to connect and share knowledge, as well as pitch to international investors. The hybrid format makes connecting easier. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to in-person only events. Everything is underscored by tech.

If you are a tech start-up, entrepreneur or academic, it’s the place to be. You can connect and network with entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and the world.

What are you hoping to achieve with the summit?

The Summit aims to drive meaningful change through innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as facilitate investment. Our effort goes toward enabling tech entrepreneurs. They are the only ones able to leapfrog systematic change to alleviate poverty and drive inclusiveness. In essence, the Summit is a glue-maker. We bring international investors, international tech entrepreneurs to collaborate, to co-create, to work, connect, do business deals with national and international tech entrepreneurs. That’s our role. We are a super hero connector.

How does the SA Innovation Summit compare with other similar summits around the world?

The SA Innovation Summit is known as the largest startup event in Africa. We are making our presence known on the continent, but the world’s biggest startup event remains the Helsinki Slush, which attracts over 17 000 people. 

What makes Cape Town an ideal location for the SA Innovation Summit?

Cape Town is the tech and innovation hub of Africa. There is a collaborative force in Cape Town that you won’t find in anywhere else in the country. Cape Town offers a space that is connected. I think people underestimate what connectivity does for the eco system – Cape Town has it and understands it.

What are your thoughts on Cape Town as a globally competitive business destination?

Cape Town is a serious contender, people want to do business in the city. You find the right talent here, there are so many success stories and the tech industry is booming. Cape Town is investing in the right knowledge products that empower entrepreneurs and investors. Cape Town also has good coffee, and as you know, where there is good coffee there’s innovation and some of the best tech entrepreneurs.

Visit the SA Innovation website for more info.