Four startups have been awarded prizes and access to incubation after being named winners of the 2020 Space-Tech Earth Observation Innovation Challenge.

Convened by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and ZA SPACE, in partnership with RIIS, Maxar, FNB, SA Innovation Summit and Anza Capital, the challenge aimed to develop early-stage African tech startups that utilise downstream applications of space technology in the agriculture, insurance, retail, and sustainability and conservation industries.

The challenge, which launched in September 2020, attracted promising submissions from across Africa, with 15 finalists selected to participate in a two-week virtual business development training programme that enabled them to strengthen their business solutions for the grand finale.

This grand finale was a virtual Space-Tech challenge pitching den, where the winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges. All winning startups have gained access to a four-month online incubation and virtual mentorship, and ongoing access to a peer-to-peer network through the TechTribe Accelerator, as well as other prizes.

First place winner was South Africa’s Hydro Blu, a geospatial data science company established to increase the accuracy of borehole drilling, which takes home a SecureWatch Premium 5GB valid for three months to the value of US$12,500.

Second, also from South Africa, was Smart AgrIoT, a cloud-based farm management platform, while there were two startups in joint third. They were Nigeria’s FieldDev Group, an agribusiness-focused geographic information systems (GIS) mapping provider, and Rwanda’s HeHe, which uses remote sensing technology to forecast post-harvest demand for crops. These companies all won SecureWatch Premium 2GB valid for three months to the value of US$5,000.

The next iteration of the Space-Tech challenge in 2021 will be geared towards promoting new entrants and entrepreneurs across the industry value chain, which will strengthen Africa’s geospatial readiness.