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Research and innovation
News article28 August 2023Cape TownDirectorate-General for Research and Innovation2 min read

The AU-EU Innovation Festival concludes, fostering collaborations among European and African innovators and showcasing youth-led and women-led innovations

The first edition of the AU-EU Innovation Festival, hosted by the European Union, the African Union, and the Republic of South Africa, came to a successful conclusion in Cape Town, South Africa.

Building on the success of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda Stakeholder Event, that took place in November 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya and online, the AU-EU Innovation Festival ran as a whole day-event in hybrid format. It gathered a dynamic community of innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers and stakeholders from Africa, Europe and beyond, to bring together stakeholders’ views on the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda (adopted on 19 July 2023).

, The event provided a platform to showcase cutting-edge ideas and pitching sessions on innovative solutions across the four priority areas of the AU-EU cooperation on research and innovation, namely Public Health, Green Transition, Innovation and Technology and Capacities for Science.

The Festival was opened by European Commission, DG Research and Innovation’s Director Maria Cristina Russo and South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation’s Deputy Director-General Daan du Toit, followed by key note addresses of South Africa’s Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation H.E. Minister Dr Nzimande, EU Ambassador to South Africa H.E. Ms Sandra Kramer, African Union Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation H.E. Prof. Mohamed Belhocine and AUDA-NEPAD’s Senior Advisor Prof Aggrey Ambali. The morning programme featured then two parallel discussions with five testimonials each on success stories and challenges encountered by women- and youth-led innovations on the path to scalability. The event includedthe finals of the “Open Innovation Challenges” of the Horizon 2020-project “ENRICH in Africa” across the areas of Public Health, Green Transition and Innovation and Technology.

The afternoon included a pitching session of  more than 30 innovators and incubators, selected through a public expression of interest process. They had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to the audience, including, among others peers and potential investors. This was followed by the “AU-EU Innovation Fair – Meet the innovators”, in which innovators further showcased their projects in dedicated stands with real-life demonstrations. This provided for a valuable opportunity to foster collaborations among innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and corporates.

The event also featured approximately 20 permanent exhibition booths of projects and organisations, research institutions and programmes in the area of EU-Africa cooperation Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

It ended with the awarding of the winners of the ENRICH in Africa Open Innovation Challenges, followed by the closing remarks provided by the African Union Commission, AUDA-NEPAD and the European Commission.

The Festival marked a milestone in the AU-EU partnership and on driving forward joint efforts to propel research, innovation, and socio-economic development in both regions.

Next steps.Starting from end-November 2023, virtual workshops will take place on a biannual basis with the aim to actively engage stakeholders in the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, while also providing tangible opportunities for networking, “matchmaking”, knowledge exchange and training in “deep tech” innovation. These activities will be advertised and made accessible on the brand-new AU-EU Innovation Interface, which was launched with the adoption of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. This series of interactive online workshops together with targeted communication initiatives, are expected to facilitate sustainable and mutually beneficial exchanges between AU and EU stakeholders.

More information

EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation


Publication date
28 August 2023
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation
Cape Town