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Urban Links Africa: Why should your SME get involved?

By Cera Wong,
SME Development Manager,
Connected Places Catapult

We are launching a project to connect SMEs with African cities. Our Urban Links Africa project will take UK SMEs to work with six cities across Kenya and South Africa to help them to address key challenges using technology.

Why should I consider Africa as an SME?
Africa is a rapidly growing market with huge potential and opportunities for SMEs. Africa has the world’s largest free trade area and a 1.2 billion-person market. The population is predicted to reach around 1.7 billion by 2030.
BriteYellow is an AR, VR and smart sensor company, which helps transport and the built environment enhance user experience and unlock revenue. The company had operations in two Nigerian cities and is currently working with distribution partners in South Africa and Kenya.
CEO Fredi Nonyelu believes the Urban Links Africa project is ‘a great opportunity to establish pilot customers in Kenya and South Africa, and to develop our relations with our local partners.

‘A great opportunity to establish pilot customers in Kenya and South Africa, and to develop our relations with our local partners.’
Fredi Nonyelu, CEO, BriteYellow

SME ScienceScope works with Skill Exchange Makerspace in South Africa, deploying its Internet of Things framework for classrooms to townships up and down the country.
Managing Director David Crellin says: ‘Starting in Sebokeng and working with the school and university students, we’ve already run several design workshops. Students get to use our product, the Micro:bit, and other technologies to build a prototype solution to real challenges faced in the community.
‘In our latest activity, a group of students came up with a mobile drug dispenser to enable rural communities to collect their prescription drugs without having to travel to the centre of the township.’
‘The Connected Places Catapult project has the potential to enhance initiatives like ours that are already embedded in the South Africa ecosystem to deliver a scale-up of capability in the region to meet key sustainable development goals such as ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’

‘The Connected Places Catapult project has the potential to enhance initiatives like ours that are already embedded in the South Africa ecosystem to deliver a scale-up of capability in the region to meet key sustainable development goals such as ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’
David Crellin, Managing Director ScienceScope

What have we done so far?
Between October and December 2019, our teams travelled to Kenya and South Africa to meet with senior stakeholders. We’ve been engaging with everyone from cities, tech hubs, local entrepreneurs, and government departments.
These visits were an opportunity to develop and build upon top-level relationships, learn about new policy initiatives, gain insights on the landscape for tech business group, and map out potential opportunities for cross-city collaborations.

How can I apply?
SMEs can make expressions of interest which means we will send you useful information about the project. We officially launch the project at an event in Cape Town on 12 February, after which we have an Open Call where we scout for SMEs.
From this, we will select six SMEs, who will receive up to £75k per project, to deploy their technology in their chosen city.
You can find out more about the expression of interest here: https://cp.catapult.org.uk/opportunities/urban-links-africa-eoi/

How can I find out more?
We are bringing details of our Urban Links Africa project to an area near you so you can hear about it first-hand from us.
We are running an event in Leeds on 13 February where you can speak to our team about our African Cities Innovation Opportunity. You can register here.
If you are an SME and would like to be considered for this opportunity, please sign up here.
To download your copy of The African Cities Innovation Analysis Report, follow this link.
Join our SME Network to stay on top of Urban Links Africa and other SME-related news