#africa4future Challenge

  • January 25, 2018
Autonomous drones to deliver vital humanitarian aid payloads; intelligent greenhouses for more efficient farming; and drones that make crop-spraying faster, safer and more environmentally friendly.
They are each part of Airbus's global aerospace accelerator BizLab, selected after beating off the competition at pitch events in 2017.
Two were selected in conjunction with our #africa4future challenge, launched in early 2017. The third was part of a call for innovative social ideas in May in collaboration with the Airbus Foundation.

Accessing African potential

#africa4future aims to unlock the existing innovative and creative spirit on the Sub-Saharan African continent by developing products and services for and with African people based on their needs. It was started by the Airbus Africa Community.

"These three start-ups exemplify the high potential and the innovation capital we want to work with," says Susan Breton, Business Value Developer of Balance for Business (BfB) and founding member of the BfB Airbus Africa Community. "This network, and our partnership with BizLab, shows how we can learn, connect and grow together." 

After launching, #africa4future issued a call for early stage start-up applications in South Africa and Kenya in August. "We believe the continent is changing. To develop the products and services of the future, it is important to understand how the local ecosystems function and build partnerships with new players to create links with the local communities," explains Rey Buckman, Airbus BizLab Platform Leader in Hamburg and part of the launch of the initiative.

Ten-day European tour

At the end of September, Airbus BizLab selected Illuminum Greenhouses, from Kenya, and Cloudline, from South Africa as the winners. Joining them from the Airbus Foundation call for social ideas is Aerial Industries, an agriculture drone manufacturing from Nigeria. 

"I wanted to focus on people's core needs. In Africa, we still have to solve the challenge of hunger and how to build sustainable food production," says Aerial Industries CEO Ndubisi Arinze Eze, who previously worked as an Airbus engineer in the UK. "I had been able to apply what I learnt in aviation and this connection continues today."  

The group of three startups enjoyed a ten-day European tour, an important part of buiöding connections to Airbus stakeholders. From 8-10 January, they visited Airbus technical experts and pitch the projects to #africa4future sponsors Dirk Hoke, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, and Jane Basson, Chief of Staff to the CEO.

They went to Munich, for further pitch events and expert meetings. After the trip, the teams will continue to be supported by the BizLab and a local partner in their country of origin.

The three African start-ups selected

  • Aerial Industries (Nigeria) has developed a drone concept for faster, more efficient and more environmentally friendly cop-spraying in developing countries.  
  • Illuminum Greenhouses (Kenya) constructs affordable greenhouses with automated drip irrigation kits using solar-powered sensors. Currently relying on cellular networks, Illuminum aims to use satellites to collect data and enable global deployment.
  • Cloudline (South Africa): A network of autonomous delivery drones to carry payloads between 100kg and 1 tonne over hundreds of kilometres. The technology is initially aimed at the humanitarian aid sector, but could expand to a global market of point-to-point delivery.

Members of the three African start-ups selected by Airbus Bizlab for #Africa4future


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