Meet the three African businesses to make the 2018 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers’ list

PUBLISHED: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 12:54:31 GMT

By WEF and CNBC Africa

Three African businesses made this year’s World Economic Forum annual list of Technology Pioneers. Two hail from Kenya and a third from Morocco.

Kenyan-based CarePay is developing an inclusive platform for health financing and delivery in Africa while BitPesa has created digital financial solutions from and for emerging markets. Morocco’s WaystoCap has created a marketplace for businesses to trade goods in Africa

Of the 61 early-stage companies recognised for their design, development and deployment of potentially world-changing innovations and technologies, a majority (52%) come from outside the United States, including many from emerging markets, and a quarter (25%) is female-led.

“Innovation comes from all corners of the earth and from a very diverse group of entrepreneurs, and with this selection we recognize that,” said Cheryl Martin, Head of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum. “The next step is to help these Pioneers bring their solutions to complex world-critical problems to global markets and to take action for the public good.”

The Technology Pioneers 2018 address many societal challenges, a hopeful sign that technology will be a force for good in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Apeel Sciences (USA), for example, develops plant-derived technologies to reduce food waste; Pymetrics (USA) matches talents to opportunity using neuroscience games and artificial intelligence (AI); and HorizonState (Australia) enables efficient and secure vote casting.

“Technology and start-ups are not just about computer software, consumer apps and social networks,” said Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum. “Technology Pioneers 2018 are tackling complex challenges such as environmental sustainability, efficient energy use and access to healthcare.”

Technology Pioneers come from all over the world. Among the other nations to host Pioneers are Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, as well as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the US. The Pioneers include:

  • Bangladesh-based ME SOLshare democratizes energy by developing peer-to-peer microgrids
  • Brazilian-based Agrosmart makes agronomic models based on genetics, soil type and microclimate data

Examples from well-known innovation hubs include Precognize (Israel), which is developing predictive maintenance software for the process industry, and BenevolentAI (UK) which is developing and applying AI for scientific innovation.

The leadership of the 2018 Technology Pioneers is gender diverse, with 25% of the companies (co-)founded by women. Examples include: Viola Llewellyn, Co-Founder and President of Ovamba Solutions, who built a $500 million life insurance investment fund before co-founding Ovamba; Diana Paredes, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Suade Labs, who had a successful career in investment banking before applying her expertise to financial regulation as a service; and Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer and founder of BitPesa, who is an advocate for blockchain technology in emerging markets and financial innovation across frontier markets.

About the Technology Pioneers

The World Economic Forum believes that innovation is critical to the future well-being of society and to driving economic growth. Launched in 2000, the Technology Pioneer community is composed of early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to make a significant impact on business and society.

The Forum recognizes a limited number of companies each year as Technology Pioneers and incorporates them into its initiatives, activities and events, where they bring cutting-edge insights and novel perspectives to world-critical discussions. Companies selected in the past include: Airbnb, Bloom Energy, bluebird bio, Cyberdyne, Editas Medicine, Foundation Medicine, Google, Kaggle, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Proteus Digital Health, Rethink Robotics, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter and Wikimedia.

Appendix: The full list of World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers 2018

  • 1928 diagnostics (Sweden ) – A platform providing bioinformatic analysis of genome sequencing
  • Agrosmart (Brazil ) – Agronomic models based on seed genetics, soil type, microclimate data
  • Apeel Sciences (USA ) – Plant-derived technologies to reduce food waste and increase access
  • Applied Brain Research (Canada ) – Compiler, operating system and applications for next-generation computer chips
  • Aqua Security (Israel ) – Automated full-stack security for platforms and clouds
  • Armis (USA ) – Agentless internet of things (IoT) security platform for enterprises
  • BenevolentAI (UK ) – Development and application of AI for scientific innovation
  • Bestmile(Switzerland ) – Cloud platform to optimize autonomous vehicle fleets
  • Blue Vision Labs (UK ) – Cloud technology for various augmented reality (AR) industry applications
  • BitPesa (Kenya ) – Digital financial solutions from and for emerging markets
  • Cadenza Innovation (USA ) – Low-cost, high-capacity cell design for lithium-ion energy storage systems
  • CarePay (Kenya ) – Platform for health financing and delivery in Africa
  • Casetext (USA ) – AI for context-aware legal research
  • org (USA ) – Expanding access to computer science in schools
  • CognitiveScale (USA ) – Augmented intelligence software to extend human cognitive function
  • Color Genomics (USA ) – Democratizing access to high-quality genetic information
  • Cohesity (USA ) – Platform for hyperconverged secondary storage solutions
  • CUJO AI (USA ) – Software and firmware solutions for gateway and cloud infrastructure
  • Delair (France ) – Commercial drone solutions to digitize physical assets into business insights
  • ai (USA ) – AI software for autonomous vehicles using deep learning
  • Everledger (UK ) – Digital ledger that tracks and protects valuable assets
  • EVRYTHNG (UK ) – Digital identity and data management for consumer products
  • Fetch Robotics (USA ) – Collaborative autonomous mobile robots for commercial and industrial environments
  • Gamalon (USA ) – AI for machines to learn more efficiently
  • Grid Singularity (Germany ) – Open, decentralized energy-data exchange platform
  • H55 (Switzerland ) – Electric propulsion systems for efficient and affordable aviation technology
  • Horizon State (Australia ) – A decentralized engagement and decision-making platform
  • Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (USA ) – A global crowd-powered organization developing Hyperloop technologies
  • Innoviz Technologies (Israel ) – High-resolution, solid-state light detection and ranging solutions for autonomous vehicles
  • Juvo (USA ) – Mobile identity scoring for financial and digital access
  • Malong Technologies (China ) – AI for product recognition
  • ME SOLshare (Bangladesh ) – Decentralized peer-to-peer microgrids
  • Melonport (Switzerland ) ­ Open-source blockchain software for digital asset managers
  • Modern Meadow (USA ) – Biofabrication to develop new leather materials
  • My Crop Technologies (India ) – A machine learning-based collaborative platform to support farmers
  • Narrativ (USA ) – Building renewable link technology to democratize commerce
  • Narrative Science (USA ) – An intent-driven system automatically transforming data into intelligent narratives
  • OnlinePajak (Indonesia ) – An application to handle corporate taxes and administration faster
  • Ovamba Solutions (USA ) – Funding trade and commodities in emerging markets, including Africa
  • Peloton Technology (USA ) – Driver-assistive truck platooning technology
  • Petuum (USA ) – A software infrastructure provider enabling AI for enterprises
  • Plataforma Verde (Brazil ) – Software as a service for online solid waste management
  • Plenty (USA ) – Indoor vertical farming using optimized resources
  • Precognize (Israel ) – A predictive maintenance software for the process industry
  • Primer (USA ) – Machines that can read and write
  • Pymetrics (USA ) – Gamified recruiting tool powered by AI
  • QuintessenceLabs (Australia ) – Quantum-based cybersecurity solutions
  • Raycatch (Israel ) – A software application to maximize energy productivity
  • Seismic (USA ) – Powering clothing through the integration of apparel and robotics
  • SocialCops (India ) – Data intelligence to clean up unorganized data
  • Soft Robotics (USA ) – Robotic technology to mimic the dexterity of the human hand
  • Soul Machines (New Zealand ) – Humanizing computing through the use of AI
  • Suade (UK ) – Regulation-as-a-service on a software platform for financial institutions
  • ThoughtSpot (USA ) – A search- and AI-driven analytics platform
  • Tulip Interfaces (USA ) – Digital manufacturing enhanced with work instruction apps
  • uBiome (USA ) – Transforming the microbiome into services to improve people’s lives
  • Utilis (Israel ) – Identifying water by analysing satellite imagery
  • Vayyar (Israel ) – Safe, low-cost 3D imaging sensors used in various applications
  • Watergen (Israel ) – Pulling clean and safe drinking water from the air
  • WaystoCap (Morocco ) – Marketplace for businesses to trade goods in Africa
  • XM Cyber (Israel ) – A cybersecurity platform to identify all attack vectors

Get the best of CNBC Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent. Sign up here.