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Qualcomm empowers African tech startups with mentorship. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Qualcomm has announced the new cohort of startups for its 2024 Make in Africa programme, demonstrating its commitment to fostering innovation across the African continent 

This equity-free mentorship initiative targets promising early-stage startups interested in leveraging advanced connectivity and processing technologies such as 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT. Now in its second year, the programme aims to significantly enhance the technological ecosystem in Africa by offering comprehensive support, including mentorship, business coaching, expert engineering consultations, and guidance on intellectual property protection.

In 2024, the programme attracted around 250 applications from startups across 30 countries, showcasing the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and burgeoning tech innovation scene in Africa.

Qualcomm has also announced the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund. Ecorich Solutions Limited, a female-founded enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya, was selected for its innovative smart organic food composter designed to tackle the dual challenges of organic waste management and sustainable agricultural practices. The funding from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative will enable Ecorich to scale its solutions to reduce environmental pollution, improve crop yields for farmers, and mitigate waste-related health risks in communities. Other participants from the 2023 cohort also received stipends to continue developing their projects, which range from enhancing child mental health through AI in toys to improving food security with smart agricultural warehouses.

Alex Rogers, president of QTL & global affairs at Qualcomm Incorporated, expressed enthusiasm about the impact of the Africa Innovation Platform. “I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to the Africa Innovation Platform this year,” he remarked. “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.”

Further enriching the support system for these burgeoning enterprises, Qualcomm has also progressed in developing the L2Pro Africa IP e-learning platform. This online programme, created in collaboration with Adams and Adams, Africa’s leading intellectual property law firm, is designed to empower startups, SMEs, and researchers to effectively protect and maximise their innovations. It includes updated educational content on individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs, and trademarks in several African countries, as well as comprehensive resources pertaining to two regional patent organisations, ARIPO and OAPI.

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