Four African technology start-ups to compete for funding in Italy

qrcode preetamrai flickrWiGroup enables retailers to accept mobile transactions by integrating them onto one platform via QR codes. (Image source: Preetam Rai/Flickr)Global investment advisory firm U-Start has chosen four African start-up companies to represent its flagship event in Milan, Italy from 13-14 May 2014

The four start-ups - wiGroup, Over, Cape Ray Medical and MellowCabs - will vie for final stage funding at the U-Start Conference alongside winners from Brazil, Russia and Switzerland, U-Start said.

U-Start established U-Start Conference Africa to identify the continent's emerging technology and digital SMEs, with ideas put forward by the four winners spanning retail, healthcare, transport and social media.

WiGroup is a platform that enables retailers to accept mobile transaction applications by integrating them on one platform via wiCode, wiTag and QR Code; Over is an iPhone/iPad application which allows users to add text and artwork to photographs, and can be integrated into major social networks; Cape Ray Medical has designed a medical imaging product to detect breast cancer diagnosis; and MellowCabs provides green taxis for distances ranging from one to three kilometres.

Zachariah George, COO of U-Start Africa, said, "We are absolutely delighted with the success of U-Start Conference Africa. Every business that participated demonstrated pitches of the highest standard, testament to our belief that the entrepreneurial talent in South Africa is fast growing to be competitive with the likes of Silicon Valley.

"We're excited to take all four of the African U-Start winners to Milan, not just to showcase their amazing product, but to provide them with the exposure needed to secure investment and grow on a global scale."

The four companies will receive mentorship, incubation and training for a week in Italy and will also be given one-on-one introductions to a wide network of pan-European investors and a year of free access to the U-Start platform, U-Start Africa said.

The teams will receive international media exposure and a chance to network exclusively with industry stalwarts, it added.

Stefano Guidotti, CEO of U-Start commented that while Africa's profile as a technology hotbed was steadily rising, it lacked exposure, awareness and globally-led support.

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