Webinar: ‘Innovation ecosystems: Cooperation between Africa and Europe’



FundingBox, the European Commission and Make-IT in Africa are organising, together with DIHNET, a webinar about cooperation between Africa and the European Union on Innovation Ecosystems to discover potential collaborations and introduce the ecosystem to the new initiative “African European Digital Innovation Bridge (AEDIB)”.

Digital technologies offer new opportunities for SMEs, although many of them can still find it difficult to know what technology could be beneficial for their business, how to test these technologies and how to acquire the financing necessary to digitise their business.

In this context, numerous Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) have been launched in the European Union. Their role is to provide support to companies in their digitisation pathway: they can help them become more competitive in their business and production processes using digital technologies. Also, they provide access to technical expertise and experimentation, so that companies can “test before invest”, as well as financing advice and skills development needed for a successful digital transformation.

In the African continent there is a growing number of digital entrepreneurial intermediaries and a strong entrepreneurial mindset. The African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030) emphasizes the need for further collaboration between stakeholders in order to develop a complete Ecosystem.

The European Commission launched a H2020 call, aimed at selecting proposals that would develop a mutually beneficial cooperation between African and European Digital Innovation Hubs to strengthen the long-term sustainability of DIHs.

The AEDIB initiative (African European Digital Innovation Bridge) will strengthen a common African-European digital innovation ecosystem by supporting local digital innovation and start-up ecosystems in Africa and facilitating the collaboration between European and African DIHs. The AEDIB will establish African Digital Innovation Hubs by creating strong partnerships between stakeholders in innovation clusters of excellence along thematic, technological and entrepreneurial challenges (e.g. smart cities, climate smart agriculture, digital trade, etc.).

This webinar aims at presenting the existing innovation ecosystems from both Africa and the EU and to explore:

  • how African stakeholders can further cooperate to develop a complete ecosystem with coordinated support activities, creating a more digital business friendly environment, developing digital skills, e-leadership, and entrepreneurial culture. At the same time, there is an unprecedented potential for cooperation and implementing there the Digital Innovation Hubs concept;
  • how collaboration between the ecosystems of both continents through transcontinental networks and mutual learning can help overcome existing barriers to digital innovation and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both in Africa and in Europe.


  • 10:00h – Introduction to the topic and to the session – Mayte Carracedo, FundingBox, DIHNET.EU Project.
  • 10:05h – Presentation of the innovation ecosystem in Europe and the DIHs initiative – Matthias Kuom, European Commission.
  • 10:10h – EC policy framework and supporting measures for fostering the collaboration between African and European Innovation Hubs (ICT 58 call for proposals) – Lars-Erik Forsberg, European Commission.
  • 10:15h – Presentation of the African European Digital Innovation Bridge – Matthias Rehfeld, Make-IT in Africa.
  • 10:20h – Presentation of the innovation ecosystem in Africa and main initiatives there – Patrick Ashu, Afrilabs.
  • 10:25h – Best practices from European DIHs having already cooperated at international level
    • Christian Blobner, Head of International Research Networks bei Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF
    • Ingrid Milcent, Tenerrdis (MinaSmart DIH)
  • 10:40h – Best practices from African Innovation Ecosystems
    • Hanae Bezad, Smart Africa
    • David van Dijk, ABAN
    • Jon Stever, I4Policy
  • 10:55h – Panel discussion: How can cooperation between Africa and the EU encourage the take-up of innovation in both continents?
    • Moderator: Mayte Carracedo
    • Panelists:
      • Christian Blobner,Fraunhofer Institute
      • Ingrid Milcent, Tenerrdis
      • Hanae Bezad, Smart Africa
      • David van Dijk, ABAN
      • Eva Sow Ebion, I4Policy
  • 11:20h – Questions from the audience – Lucie Milcent, FundingBox, DIHNET.EU Project.
  • 11:25h – Conclusions and end of the webinar.


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