International Solar Alliance launches innovation challenge in Africa
The International Solar Alliance has launched the SolarX Grand Challenge to spur African entrepreneurship and innovation. The SolarX Grand Challenge aims to catalyze and accelerate solar adoption by motivating innovators and researchers to add value and much-needed innovation and disruption in the solar sector.
Under SolarX competition, 20 start-ups and innovators from countries across Africa will be selected, and a $300,000 cash grant will be awarded to the winners. The winning entrepreneurs will undergo an acceleration program, be mentored and connected with investors, and be provided access to the African markets.
“The SolarX Grand Challenge is part of our two-pronged strategy to ease solar deployment in Africa. Under this strategy, we are creating a Solar Facility to enable investments to flow into African countries. Along with investments, a local pipeline of projects will simultaneously be needed,” said Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General of International Solar Alliance.
“Through the SolarX Grand Challenge’s competitive process, we seek to create a group of entrepreneurs who will create locally relevant business models and a pipeline of projects. With innovation, commitment, and the investments flowing in, we expect this strategy to create demand and supply, which will change the energy dynamics globally.”
The first edition of SolarX will focus on the African region to attract investments in the solar energy sector, reduce the gap between energy demand and supply, and promote a robust start-up ecosystem in Africa.
“With an estimated potential of 7,900 GW of solar in Africa, and only four African nations having a start-up ecosystem, there is a yawning gap between what is needed and what is available. African start-ups attracted less than 1% of global venture investments. With SolarX, we aim to change this scenario,” Dr Mathur added.
Africa, being at the heart of the Tropic of Cancer, has annual average solar irradiation of 2,119 kWh/m2 and holds the potential of thinning the energy gap with yearlong access to sunlight.
ISA has partnered with Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India, under the Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, for the SolarX Grand Challenge.
ISA has also partnered with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) for the challenge. WAIPA facilitates the exchange of best practices in attracting foreign investment and advises Investment Promotion Agencies on formulating investment policies.
The SolarX Challenge will shortlist entries by April 2023 and declare winners by June 2023.
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