Launch of the Young Enterprise Initiative South Africa
On 29 July 2016, Elisabeth Barbier, French Ambassador to South Africa, and Barlow Manilal, CEO of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) launched the Young Enterprise Initiative South Africa (YEI South Africa) focused on providing South African start-up companies the opportunity to develop and grow their businesses in France.
France is a strong research, development and innovation hub in Europe and has the highest number of start-ups in Europe.
France is also ranked first in Europe in terms of the number of innovative structures by the Thomson Reuters TOP100 innovators ranking. In 2015, France was the largest European delegation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With 160 French companies present, the delegation was second only to the USA.
The YEI South Africa programme is the third of its kind (after YEI USA and YEI Italy). It provides an opportunity for selected South African start-up companies to participate in an acceleration programme in France. Those companies selected will attend training sessions on how to do business in France, attend planned ad hoc B2B meetings with technical and business partners and have access to support services over a one-year period to achieve their business and technical development objectives.
The participation of TIA in this programme endeavours to fulfil its strategic role as connector, catalysing partnerships between TIA-supported start-ups and French companies on a well-structured, international platform. The enabling environment will not only contribute to increased global competitiveness of the projects but also assist technical experts to identify and cultivate innovative technology ideas. TIA will also collaborate with South African entities such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
This year, 4 South African companies in the clean technology sector will be selected. They are required to have a working business model and product or service and should already have received financing from TIA. The final selection will be made in September and those selected will spend a week in France in December. Said Ambassador Barbier: “I personally hope that the four companies who will be awarded with the YEI South Africa programme this year will strongly benefit from this opportunity, in order to develop fruitful and long lasting relationships with France”.
The YEI South Africa goes hand-in-hand with the French Tech Ticket programme. French Tech Ticket is an international competition for entrepreneurs to spend one year in France, with a package including visas, a bursary and a spot in a business incubator. The two soft-landing programmes are complementary because the French Tech Ticket is generalist and gives the opportunity of a long stay in France whereas the YEI is focused on the clean technology sector, and gives the opportunity to rapidly identify relevant contacts in France.
In 2016, France has developed various other initiatives to reinforce its partnership in innovation with South Africa. Cape Town was officially selected as a French Tech Hub in January. In June, the French Institute launched the Digital Lab Africa, a skills development and incubation initiative dedicated to young talents in the multimedia sector in Africa. In July, the French Embassy organized a workshop with French company Dassault Systèmes about advanced manufacturing.
French Embassy in South Africa