BEIRUT: Seedstars World, the biggest startup competition that focuses on emerging markets and fast-growing startups, held its grand finale Friday with the sixth edition of the Global Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Blended, a mobile communication platform connecting schools with families in Latin America, won the most prestigious prize dedicated to emerging economies’ startups: up to $500,000 in equity investment and unique growth opportunities.
After covering 80+ countries throughout 2018 with local and regional competitions, Seedstars invited all winners to Switzerland for the chance to compete for different prizes, including up to $500K in equity investment and the title of Seedstars Global Winner.
On April 2 and 3, startups participated in a two-day bootcamp with more than 60 experts supporting them in achieving their next milestones. During the private Investor Forum on April 4, 12 finalists were selected to compete on the main stage, and three of them were from the MENA region.
On the Summit Day, April 5, the startups delivered three-minute pitches on the main stage in front of more than 1,000 hand-picked ecosystem builders, corporates, and investors representing some of the most prominent names of tech and entrepreneurship in emerging markets.
“The Seedstars experience, I believe, is very important for entrepreneurs. More than the money, I have received so much and taken in so many great ideas from entrepreneurs all over the world. Seedstars work is fundamental in showcasing that great companies exist everywhere,” says Federico Hernandez, CFO & Founder of Blended.
According to Pierre-Alain Masson, co-founder at Seedstars, “We are very proud to be supporting all these entrepreneurs and we’ll continue to expand our activities with the launch of new acceleration and training programs across the world. We’ll also be announcing more funding to these unbelievable entrepreneurs that we have seen on stage all week.”
In addition, Seedstars announced its partnership with First Growth Ventures' founders Tamim El Zein and Maxime Bouan to launch a $100mn sub-Saharan Africa venture fund. The fund will focus on early-stage investments from USD 250 thousand to USD 5 million in the most promising innovative ventures across sectors and countries.
The fund is the first of a series of regional funds Seedstars will launch in the coming years to continue the mission of accelerating and supporting entrepreneurs at all stages. On top of the $500,000 investment prize for the Seedstars Global Winner, Seedstars and its partners awarded seven additional prizes:
Public Prize by Vaud: SPEI allowed the summit attendees to vote for the best tech start-ups among the Seedstars Global Competition winners.
YNMO from Saudi Arabia was the winner. YNMO is a SaaS that allows disabilities service providers including schools, centers and clinics to design and monitor individualized treatment plans.
Labeskey/Schoolap, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, won the Transforming Education Prize by TRECC and the School of Management Fribourg, winning access to the Seedstars Growth Program worth $50,000. The online platform provides tools to improve the education system with school administration management modules.
TAG Heuer, Seedstars World official timekeeper, partnered with Seedstars Summit to reward the Innovation Prize to Wobot. The Indian startup allows companies to automate their surveillance systems with Artificial Intelligence.
Seedstars Vaccine Delivery Challenge was awarded to the South African startup Iyeza, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. $10,000 will be provided to improve its web platform for the delivery of Human PapillomaVirus (HPV) vaccine to young women.
Also with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Seedstars Malaria Challenge was awarded to Medsaf, through their platform, the Nigerian startup connects pharmacies and hospitals with safe and cost-effective medication.
Along with Seedstars, Merck awarded the Life Science Prize to Oxpecker Labs from Hong Kong. They will participate in the Merck Acceleration program and scale up their non-invasive sweat sensor to help prevent dehydration and heat strokes.
7keema, the first on-demand home nursing services of its kind from Egypt, won the Rising Tide Foundation Empowerment Prize. They won access to the Seedstars Growth Program as well as an equity investment.
Eight startups from developed markets looking to expand or solve problems in emerging markets pitched on the Breakout Stage. Tag Heuer crowned DOT Glasses winner and Noisypeak runner-up. hiLyte came out third and was supported by Seedstars’ partner Logitech.
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