Connected Places Catapult launches its Urban Links Africa project in Cape Town

Today, Connected Places Catapult has announced the launch of its Urban Links Africa project at an event in Cape Town, South Africa. This flagship project will see joint UK and African innovations deployed to solve pressing challenges in Africa’s rapidly growing cities.

The project’s goal is to facilitate a sustainable collaboration between the UK, South Africa and Kenya by bringing together cities and tech ecosystems through equitable partnerships and industry investment, to address African cities’ key challenges and improve life for citizens.

Funded by Innovate UK, Urban Links Africa (ULA) – which began in September 2019 and will run until April 2021 – will pilot market-led solutions to key urban challenges in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu in Kenya; and Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa.

The ULA programme will recruit innovative technology companies in Kenya, South Africa and the UK to deploy joint tech solutions to these urban challenges. Capacity-building workshops will be run in tandem to support African cities to become innovation-ready.

Connected Places Catapult (CPC) will encourage UK, Kenyan and South African ecosystems to collaborate, share expertise and develop sustainable long-term partnerships, as well as running workshops in the six cities to secure a common learning baseline and ensure all parties are innovation-ready. The project will engage with African tech hubs to upskill them on urban innovation and via knowledge transfer missions to the UK.

“Each city will choose an urban challenge, and we will invite Kenyan, South African and UK SMEs to propose solutions to these challenges,” says Nicola Yates OBE, CEO of Connected Places Catapult. “We are very excited to embark on this project.”

CPC will partner UK and African innovators via partnerships with tech hubs and will continually monitor the impact of these projects and assist the process over six months.

Sir Michael Bear, Senior Advisor to Connected Places Catapult and former Lord Mayor of London said: “It’s important to generate long-term improvements to citizens’ wellbeing through this programme. We will monitor the impact on society, the economy and the environment, to create a business case for scaling these projects.”

CPC will run two high-profile industry events with large African and UK businesses, to discuss long-term partnerships and investment in these six cities.

We also plan to engage with African tech hubs to upskill them on urban innovation and via knowledge transfer missions to the UK.

Councillor Sharon Cottle, Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Service said: “This is an excellent opportunity for cities to build a bridge with their tech hubs, exchange best practice with the UK and become innovation-ready.”

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About Urban Links Africa

By 2050, 2.5 billion more people will live in cities and almost 90% of that growth will be in either Africa or Asia. Three African cities have already grown beyond a population of 10 million and are considered megacities. More African cities, like Johannesburg and Nairobi, will soon achieve this status. This rapid urbanisation provides great opportunities for African cities and their citizens, but also serious long-term problems if not managed well. By developing mutually equitable partnerships between UK and African innovators, the 20-month, Urban Links Africa programme led by Connected Places Catapult will seek to undertake research and deploy innovation and technology solutions across Kenyan and South African cities, to improve lives by addressing some of the most intractable urban development challenges.

About the Connected Places Catapult

The new Connected Places Catapult accelerates smarter living and travelling in and between the places of tomorrow. We focus on growing businesses with innovations in mobility services and the built environment that enable new levels of physical, digital and social connectedness. The Connected Places Catapult operates at the intersection between public and private sectors and between local government and transport authorities. We convene the disparate parts of the market to help innovators navigate the complexity of doing business, creating new commercial opportunities and improving productivity, socio-economic and environmental benefits for places.

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