GSMA announces innovation fund for start-ups

Rupee India telecomlead
GSMA today announced the launch of the Innovation Fund to support innovative start-ups in Africa and selected countries in Asia.

The telecom industry association did not specify the number of countries, where the fund will be launched to boost the start-up ecosystem for mobile business.

The fund is backed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the GSMA and its members. GSMA says the Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund will disburse approximately £2 million during the first funding round.

The Fund will run several rounds between 2016 and 2020, with each round having specific areas of focus. GSMA announced the innovation fund at Mobile 360 – Africa.

Mats Granryd, director general of GSMA, said: “The launch of the Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund is an exciting opportunity for the mobile industry to work with entrepreneurs in developing markets to create services that will deliver important socio-economic benefits to their communities.”

The innovation fund will try to identify innovations with the potential for growth. The innovation fund will provide funding and mobile-focused mentoring and technical assistance to selected start-ups in selected emerging nations in Asia and all countries in Africa. Innovative companies can establish partnerships with telecom to increase the reach of innovative mobile services.

Start-up applicants must be aligned with one or both of the following focus areas:

Sharing Economy – defined as any mobile-based platform, product or service which enables low-income citizens in emerging markets to generate income from ‘under-utilised assets’, such as free personal time or vehicle use, by sharing those assets with their peers.

Services for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – defined as any mobile-based solution, product or service designed for micro and SMEs in emerging markets that unlock improved productivity and growth.

The innovation fund will assess applications through a two-stage application process in the first round. In the pitch stage, applicants need to complete an online questionnaire providing an overview of their product or service, 18 September 2016 is the deadline for submitting pitches, said GSMA.

The innovation fund will invite eligible applicants with pitches that meet the objectives to develop a proposal setting out the full business case for the project, with the GSMA’s support.

GSMA said the fund will select up to 30 pitches to advance to the proposal stage. An independent panel of experts will then appraise the proposals and make awards totaling £2 million to approximately 10 to 15 start-ups in January 2017.