Photograph — 7themes.com

African startups in Agritech, Biotech, Mining tech and Nanotechnologies are set to benefit from a new accelerator program launched at Morocco’s University Mohamed VI Polytechnique. The program, IMPULSE, was designed with MassChallenge, a global accelerator organization, who have a “unique non-profit, zero equity and impact-focused model.” MassChallenge has reportedly supported more than 1900 startups around the world, raising $4.3 billion in funding. OCP Group and its African subsidiary are also involved in the effort.

IMPULSE, a 12-week acceleration program, will recruit the very best entrepreneurs in the fields of Agritech, Biotech, Nanotech and Mining Tech, in order to position them for greater success. The whole idea is to oversee the construction of “an innovation hub that will respond to African needs,” said a statement.

According to the statement, selected startups will get the chance to compete for $250,000 on Demo Day, when individual projects are exhibited to a panel of judges. The contestants will also use the university’s facilities to fine-tune ideas, as well as partake in abroad exchange programs in the US and Europe. A university statement says applications to enter the IMPULSE program will close on October 1, with the accelerator beginning January 15, 2020, and Demo Day scheduled for April 8, 2020.

In May this year, while attending the annual Vivatech conference in Paris, Morocco’s Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy said he would like to replicate France’s Station F in Morocco. Station F is a large campus dedicated to startups, sitting on an area of 34sqm, hosting over 3000 workstations and conference spaces.  At the time, Elalamy had hinted Morocco’s National Digital Agency would enlist the guidance of the original designers of Station F. Elalamy’s vision was essentially a Morocco that’d become an innovation hub for both Moroccan startups as well as international ones.

Later that month, EON Reality, a global leader in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR) along with six partners, agreed to set up the first Virtual Reality Interactive Digital Center in Morocco, choosing University Mohamed VI Polytechnique’s Ben Guerir campus as the site. The centre, expected to include a showroom, development labs, and research hubs, will now become a venue for knowledge sharing among the fastest-rising innovators in the country, who are well-positioned to take advantage.

A month later, French energy giant, Engie opened a platform for energy-based innovators to exhibit their brightest solutions at Engie’s annual Innovation Forum, with the goal of helping more startups gain an elbow in their respective markets. As Morocco moves towards becoming a nation of Smart Cities, aggregating initiatives led by global brands will help the country get there fast. A few years from now, the North African nation will not be spectators in the startup conversation.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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