AfriLabs-Briter Bridges Innovation Ecosystem Report​

INTRODUCTION The role innovation hubs have been playing in catalysing the debate on technology across Africa over the past years has led more and more stakeholders, ranging from governments to the private sector, to further investigate the work these organisations do and the challeng- es they face in providing portfolio companies with the right type and degree of support, whilst also achieving financial sustainability. As of October 2019, the number of hubs identi- fied across Africa is 643 , which includes coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators, and hybrid innovation hubs affiliated with government, universities, or corporates. It is important to note that around 25% of the total do not seem to offer any type of support to companies other than providing physical, oen shared facilities for entrepreneurs to work safely and hassle-free. The research also identifies over 110 hubs that have shut operations in the last few years due to bankruptcy, pivoting, or the expiration of their mandate. The backbone of this study consists of the conversations and surveys with almost a hundred hubs across the continent about their business models, the support they provide to compa- nies, and the funding they receive fromdonors and partners. Identifying the types of respon- dents and their characteristics is important to set a conversation on the many roles innova- tion hubs play in their respective ecosystems and in the debate about the pathways to start- up success. Due to the geographical distribution and the high diversity of the respondents, the responses could be used to identify general trends in the life of the typical hub in Africa. The findings suggest that hubs are oen to be identified as safe spaces for young innovators, rather than necessarily venture builders - e.g. organisations able to drive their portfolio com- panies on a direct path to scale - and the data show how such hubs are oen involved in a variety of initiatives that concur to promote the creation of a conducive ecosystem where entrepreneurs and other stakeholders can collaborate and promote their ideas. Insights from hub managers also suggest that greater financial support and collaboration within the ecosystem are vital success factors for hubs to effeciently and sustainably deliver their services. Dario Giuliani , Briter Bridges Anna Ekeledo , AfriLabs


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