Liquid Telecom has been selected as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) official partner for the 2019 Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) in Africa.
Since 2016, the MIT’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) has challenged entrepreneurs around the world to re-invent the way technology innovation is harnessed. This year the challenge will take place on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the US and Canada. Liquid Telecom will serve as the IIC’s outreach partner for Africa, where it will play an important role in recruiting African entrepreneurs and innovators to participate in the challenge.
The 2019 IIC has four categories focused on creating solutions to help people prosper in the era of automation. These are technology access, financial inclusion, skills development and opportunity matching, and income growth and job creation. Through its Innovation Partnership initiative, Liquid Telecom will be encouraging African-based start-ups, innovators and technology companies to take part in the various challenges. The IIC will award a total of $1.6 million this year – including $250,000 to each of the four winning organisations.
“Liquid Telecom is looking forward to working with MIT on delivering the IIC in Africa as it is aligned with our mission to support innovation, using digital technology, across the continent. As an African company, greater inclusion in both the creation and application of technology is fundamental to Liquid Telecom’s DNA. We are happy to help IIC reach more entrepreneurs and innovators across the continent,” said Liquid Telecom’s Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Ben Roberts.
IIC Executive Producer, Devin Cook sees a “revolution afoot” to create high-tech jobs and skills training that bring people more fully into the digital age. “Our vision is an economy that works for all,” she said. To achieve this, the IIC serves as a catalyst to “accelerate entrepreneurs who are already making our vision a reality.” In addition, the challenge wants “to drive a solutions-oriented conversation about the future of work.”
Registration is open now and the deadline for submissions on May 9, 2019. Regional finalists will be announced on July 23, 2019 and winners will be recognised at regional celebrations. The challenge will culminate with a Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT on November 21, 2019.
Since 2016, 3,000 organisations have registered for the IIC from more than 100 nations. It has worked with more than 100 Global Outreach Partners, 500 judges, and drawn 3,300 event attendees.
There were 100 winners in last year’s competition, awarded a total of $3.5 million, which developed solutions ranging from agricultural climate apps for African farmers to training courses for US healthcare workers and coding boot camps in India and the Middle East.
“We believe that inclusive innovation – the use of technology to generate increased economic opportunity for moderate and low income earners – is an imperative with a tight deadline,” said IDE Director, Erik Brynjolfsson. “The question we should be asking isn’t ‘what is technology going to do to our economy and society,’ but rather, ‘what will we do with technology’?”
The Liquid Telecom Innovation Partnerships initiative is aimed at supporting the growth of digital technology innovation across Africa. By bringing together key players from within the region’s innovation ecosystem, Liquid Telecom is helping technology companies originated and founded in Africa to scale through mutually beneficial partnerships. Under the Innovation Partnerships initiative, Liquid Telecom is providing start-ups in the region with connectivity and cloud-based services, and through Go Cloud – a new programme launched by Liquid Telecom and supported by Microsoft – is also raising awareness, adoption and usage of Azure Cloud across Africa. It also provides 4th industrial revolution skills training through its digital platform, 21cskills.africa.