Three Africa-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) projects – two of which were designed to carry small cargo payloads – have been chosen among the top 10 technology startups in the latest Airbus Bizlab #Africa4Future accelerator program.
The two cargo drone startups are Astral Aerial Solutions, a subsidiary of Nairobi-based Astral Aviation, and Ethiopia-based Maisha ICT Tech PLC. A third UAV startup chosen, Cote d’Ivoire Drone, specializes in aerial surveillance drones.
Astral Aerial is working with large UAV manufacturer Flytrex to provide on-demand and scheduled air transport of urgently needed medical supplies, laboratory samples, vaccines and blood to remote and inaccessible areas in Kenya, said Astral’s CEO, Sanjeev Gadhia. Meanwhile, Maisha ICT Tech is deploying locally built drones for delivering medicines, blood and healthcare items to remote and rural areas of Ethiopia.
Aerospace giant Airbus and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) released the 10 startups selected after an open public pitch event was held in front of experts, potential investors and other stakeholders in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi. In total, 314 entrants from 19 African countries were considered for the accelerator project since the challenge began last October.
#Africa4Future, which aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship in Africa, is a joint business accelerator initiative of Airbus and GIZ’s Make-IT in Africa initiative, with support from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a nonprofit, pan-African seed fund organization and Innocircle, the South African-based innovation consultancy.
Now that the startups are chosen, the project will begin an intensive, six-month business incubation and accelerator period. The program will involve technical, commercial and mentorship activities in France, Germany and South Africa, including workshops and coaching sessions with various experts and coaches from the participating organizers and nonprofits
The program will wrap up with Demo Day events at the biennial Paris International Airshow, plus a special event in Germany, held June 19-26, during which finalists will launch their products.