This year’s SA Innovation Summit (SAIS) is heading online, like so many other events have done in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown. Dubbed the Virtual 365 Edition, the week-long event kicks off to the public on 30th September.

The virtual status of the startup-focused Summit is the first time it has attempted such a format in its 13 year history, but will still aim to deliver a similar experience to an in-person event.

According to organisers, the programme packed with competitions, demo days, exhibitions, pitch battles, panel discussions, masterclasses and workshops. The Summit will also offer a Match and Invest platform to help startups meet with the most suitable new business partners.

“Attending the Summit was extremely rewarding; if it was only to hang around with like-minded people and listen to the inspiring speakers that would have been enough but taking part in, and winning, one of the pitching competitions was the cherry on the cake,” Giancarlo Bruno, director of Intelligent Safe Technologies, regarding his experience at the SA Innovation Summit.

“The biggest impact that the Summit had on our business was having the opportunity to substantially accelerate our development with the prize money earned.  Another benefit was being introduced to a range of people who would never have come across our product in their normal day-to-day activities,” he adds.

For this year’s Summit, it is said that the Start-Up to Scale-Up track will be of particular interest for attendees.

This as it is intended to offer a deep dive into what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, with key insights and practical tools to help young African startups wanting to grow and expand their business beyond borders, organisers say.

Another key focus area is Tech on the Rise, which will explore new technologies and how they are impacting the technology landscape. Added to this is, on 29th September, 20 female-led startups will be pitching their business cases to potential investors during one of the demo days.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the lockdown, organisers are still hoping to make the Summit as engaging as possible.

“By pivoting our event and taking it online, we’ve had the opportunity to bring the global ecosystem together. To keep this going, we will be launching the SAIS Community, a platform offering year-long networking and matching, ongoing and regular virtual events and workshops, along with partner and start-up profiling as well as a marketplace,” adds, Audrey Verhaeghe, SAIS chairperson.

To find out about ticket sales, as well as take a look at the programme, head here.

[Image – Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash]