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Swiss-South African Cleantech Cluster: Exploring Opportunities and Making Connections

AIT Cleantech visit report

Cape Town penguin during some downtime in the visit Photocredit: Stefano Grassi, Gilytics

A trip beyond expectations

From February 21 to March 3 the AIT Cleantech program embarked on a visit to assess the potential for their technology and establish contacts with academia, government, and industry stakeholders that could help them achieve their goals.

The first four companies selected showed the diversity of Swiss innovation in Cleantech:

  • GROAM, which transforms agricultural waste and side streams into biodegradable foamed materials

  • Gilytics, which automates the planning, siting, and design of energy and transportation infrastructure projects

  • Edelweiss Connect, which employs new approach methods and data science to support product design, risk, and safety assessment

  • MPower Ventures, which builds a B2B platform to deliver cleantech products and green energy access to rural and peri-urban Africans.

After online preparation with SEIF, the first port of call was the Swiss Embassy in Johannesburg to meet representatives of the local innovation community who could provide insights and connections into the local market. They then spent two days engaging with Sciencepreneurs at the AIT SASBI conference hosted by Entrepreneurship for Development in Higher Education in South Africa (EDHE), where they engaged with Sciencepreneurs and gained a deeper understanding of know-how transfer systems in South Africa and Switzerland.

During the ventures participated in a tailored program connecting to Cleantech experts in Cape Town co-ordinated by the Swiss Embassy in South Africa. The program included joint learning with business and technology hubs, local experts, and entrepreneurs. According to Manuel Seiffe of MPower, "It was an excellent and unique opportunity for startups to understand the market and explore market opportunities. We have been able to establish contacts with local partners that may lead to concrete business opportunities and strategic partnerships. Could not ask for more!"

The visit demonstrated that there are opportunities for all four companies in South Africa, including input on market opportunities, feedback on business models, and connections to make things happen with this insight. Stefano Grassi of Gilytics advises, "Free your mind from some prejudices and try to see the opportunities and potential!"

For anyone considering future calls, this experience proves that exploring opportunities and making connections can be a fruitful strategy for Cleantech startups seeking to expand their horizons. Get in touch with to engage as Swiss or African partner or apply as a start-up.


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