While the major challenges and gaps that exist in deep-tech startups continue to be around funding opportunities, there are other gaps present. Here is what we’ve learnt. Gaps and Identified needs

1. There is a lack of adequate tailored support to deep-tech startups

Deep-tech startups would benefit from specialised programmes that are targeted at the industry. Out of 400+ hubs we investigated, only 14% had programmes that were catered towards deep-tech. Generally, a lot of incubators/accelerators took an agnostic approach while selecting their cohorts. While this approach can be useful for broad coverage of support, categorising cohorts based on the specific industries or verticals would be more beneficial to deep-tech startups as it would allow for their needs to be met more efficiently. Through the desk research and seminars carried out 2 , it was also found that there was a lack of investors with deep-tech expertise, signaling a skill gap on the investors’ end.

2. More support from governments is needed

A quick scan into the government and their initiatives towards deep-tech in their various countries showed limited activity. While there are initiatives in some countries across the continent that target the tech ecosystem as a whole, e.g., the Startup Act in Tunisia; deep- tech startups would benefit more from tailored initiatives and policies. Governments could, for example, prioritise the ease of doing business for these companies, introduce tax breaks, or reform education systems focusing on the various tech clusters.

3. Supporting deep-tech startups at scale is challenging

There are several challenges associated with supporting deep-tech startups at scale. Firstly, deep-tech companies have long development timelines. They typically spend a significant amount of time and resources on R&D in order to bring innovative products to the market. This requires R&D facilities which are costly, especially considering the difficulty in achieving profitability and sustainability by the companies in the early stages. Secondly, it is difficult to identify and assess the technical feasibility of the companies’ proposed solutions as they often operate in niche areas. Even if the solution is technically feasible, it is difficult to commercialise at scale. Thirdly, supporting stakeholders need to be able to keep up with developments in order to effectively deliver market and technical support as it’s an industry driven by technical advancements. We found that R&D facilities were not a common offering by hubs in the continent.

2 Intel Workshops on Intel Ignite & oneAPI for Startups held in Abuja, Nigeria (May 2022) and Nairobi, Kenya (July 2022); Intel Early-Stage Deep-Tech Investor Roundtable, Nairobi, Kenya (July 2022)



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