Open startup concludes their first BRIAN DeepTech Pan African bootcamp

Open Startup, a non-governmental organization that fosters innovation and capacity building through entrepreneurship, education, and cross-cultural exchange, creating communities and connecting ecosystems across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is thrilled to announce the successful wrap-up of the first Pan-African Deeptech Bootcamp under the BRAIN 3.0 initiative.

BRAIN (Bridging Research and Innovation) is an innovative program dedicated to empowering scientist-entrepreneurs who are tackling fundamental challenges by offering them access to top-tier opportunities. The bootcamp, held in Cairo, brought together 20 innovative DeepTech startups from across 9 countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya) and diverse sectors – Agritech, Cleantech, Biotech, Healthtech, Energytech, Fintech, and Comtech- for a 6-day intensive training, aiming to boost cross-continental collaboration and innovation in Africa’s DeepTech landscape.

Throughout the program, participating entrepreneurs embarked on a dynamic journey of learning, networking, and refining their pitches. An international team of experts from the US, Europe, and Africa led them through a comprehensive curriculum. Educational sessions focused on translating scientific breakthroughs into successful businesses, mastering customer discovery techniques, integrating AI into business models, developing effective team management strategies, honing DeepTech-specific pitching skills, and navigating various technical and business challenges.

Entrepreneurs also benefited from personalized mentorship and coaching sessions with MIT Executive MBAs and industry experts. These sessions provided them with tailored guidance to strengthen their projects and refine their strategies. Additionally, VC Clinics equipped entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pitch their ventures to esteemed investors, gain valuable feedback, and sharpen their pitching skills, propelling them towards excellence.

“Bridging the gap between scientific discovery and real-world application is critical for Africa’s development,” says Yesmine Mansar, Program Manager at Open Startup. “The BRAIN 3.0 Pan-African Bootcamp aims to unlock a new era of innovation and progress across Africa while supporting science-entrepreneurs to immerse themselves in an advanced ecosystem, network with experts and fellow entrepreneurs, and develop the necessary knowledge to run their ventures on an international scale.”

Jennifer Miles-Thomas, President and CEO of Urology of Virginia, expressed her gratitude, saying, ‘I’m here today at BRAIN 3.0, and it has been an amazing experience. I must say that the partnership between Open Startup, The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, and MIT Sloan School of Management has been life-altering. We’ve met people from seven different African countries, speaking multiple languages, and have worked with startups at various stages of their development.’

Beyond education and mentorship, the bootcamp fostered a spirit of collaboration and immersion within the African DeepTech ecosystem. Entrepreneurs actively engaged in discussions with government representatives and industry leaders. They also participated in insightful panels exploring Open Innovation, DeepTech investment in Africa, and other relevant topics. Thought-provoking events such as the AUC Roundtable on AI offered further insights, broadening participants’ horizons and providing a comprehensive perspective of the entrepreneurial landscape.

The program culminated in a final pitching session at The GrEEK Campus. All 20 DeepTech startups showcased their innovations before a judging panel. Nine startups – Reme-D.Inc, NextAV, ToumAI Analytics, APISentry, Fluorobiotech (PTY) Ltd, Doktorconnect, MSCAN Uganda, DeepLeaf, Viventis healthcare – were selected to advance to the next phase of additional training and focused mentorship, international Immersion experiences, access to an international talents pool, linkages with investors and soft-landing opportunities, and a chance to compete for a 50K USD grant.

The success of the BRAIN Bootcamp hinged on a collaborative effort. Renowned academic institutions, including the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, MIT Sloan School of Management’s Executive MBA Program, and Material Impact, partnered with Open Startup to deliver the program. Financial backing was provided by AfricaGrow, Digital Africa, and AfricInvest Group. The city of Cairo served as the host location, with invaluable support from local partners Cultiv Ventures, CULTARK, Kamelizer Spaces, The American University in Cairo (AUC), The GrEEK Campus, 500 Startups, Tatweer Misr, and the Climate Resilient Africa fund. Their collective contributions were instrumental, underscoring a unified commitment to fostering innovation across the African continent.

“The BRAIN 3.0 Pan-African Bootcamp would not have been possible without the invaluable support of our esteemed academic partners, funders, and local collaborators. Their dedication to fostering DeepTech innovation within Africa is truly inspiring, and we look forward to continuing these vital partnerships as we empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs” concluded Yasmine Mansar, Program Manager at Open Startup.

Beyond the bootcamp, the BRAIN program has rolled out essential resources to the DeepTech community, in collaboration with esteemed partners.

The DeepTech Roundtable’s White Paper consolidates the output of the 2-day BRAIN Thought Leadership Roundtable event.

The DeepTech Mapping Study Report charts the landscape of over 300 active DeepTech startups in Africa, reveals challenges and opportunities for DeepTech advancement across diverse regions, and offers strategic recommendations to enhance innovation.
The Interactive Dashboard integrates the data collected through the study and offers a dynamic exploration of DeepTech trends using interactive filters.