AIT-SASBI Spring Conference 2023

AIT-SASBI Conference

Social and Tech-Driven Innovation for Impact

Date: 2023, February, 22nd – 23rd
Host: EDHE – Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education
Venue: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa


The Winning Startups Qualified for a Residency Stay in Switzerland



The AIT-SASBI Conference 2023 was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from February 20-23, 2023. The event united participants around the theme of “Social and Tech-driven for impact”. The event offered both in-person and virtual attendance for scholars, founders, EDHE members and peers from Switzerland, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana. The conference was hosted by EDHE and the University of Basel through the Swiss-South Africa National and International Cooperation program coordinated by the Swiss Embassy in South Africa.

The keynote speakers for the conference were Prof. Edwin C. Constable, chemistry professor at the University of Basel, and Dr. Galán-Muros is the Chief Research and Analysis at UNESCO’s International Institute for Higher Education. The conference focused on creating a greater understanding of each other’s know-how transfer ecosystem and aimed to connect student entrepreneurs with various industries to help them develop the market application of their business ideas.

The joint Academy-Industry Training: Swiss and African Science and Business Innovators Programme (AIT-SASBI) fosters a greater understanding of each other’s know-how transfer ecosystem. It is an initiative of the Swiss government run by the University of Basel, which aims to connect student entrepreneurs with various industries to help them develop the market application of their business ideas. The AIT-SASBI conference coincided with EDHE’s Kick-off event for 2023, facilitating the exchange of ideas with top performers in innovation through a partnership based on equality, shared resources, and joint agendas.

Download the Speakers Presentations as PDFs


Start Up Competition

Our event showcased ten students from Rwanda, Nigeria, and South Africa who pitched their business ideas. The objective was to choose successful prototypes to present at the Swiss and African Science and Business Innovators Programme (SASBI) 10-day residency program at the University of Basel in June.

Ms Nanci Govinder moderated the business pitching session and highlighted that Switzerland, being one of the most innovative countries in the world, is constantly seeking new ideas for products and services. The SASBI program aims to collaborate with innovators to find new opportunities for their manufacturers and suppliers. The startups selected will have a chance to showcase their ideas and find investment opportunities.

Winning Start Ups

The four successful startups were Igugu Clean Tech, Lola Green, One Trail, and Rwanda Green Lighting.

Igugu Clean Tech (South Africa) aims to produce biodiesel from nicotine-free tobacco plants for a cleaner, more environmentally friendly option than traditional diesel.
The founder is Ms Zinhle Ngidi.

Cape Town based Lola Green converts waste products into sustainable construction materials.
The founder is Mr Matimba Mabonda.

Rwanda Green Lighting harnesses airborne electrical energy to power street lights and areas still off the grid in Rwanda.
The Chief Executive Officer is Ms Diane Mumararungu.

One Trail is a Nigeria-based ed-tech company that has created a platform enabling companies to identify skills gaps in their employees.
The owner is Mr Mubarak Lawal of the University of Ibadan.

We are congratulating the Start Ups to winning their spot at the Swiss residency program!


At the occasion of the 2nd Annual Swiss – African Academia Industry Training (AIT SASBI) Conference taking place in Johannesburg (South Africa) from 22nd – 23rd February 2023 and held in cooperation with EDHE, Universities’ South Africa Entrepreneurship Development for Higher Education unit we cordially invite interested participants. The theme of this conference is “Social and Tech Driven Innovation for Impact”.

Supported by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and implemented by the University of Basel and its Department for National and International Cooperation (NIC) and EDHE these two conference days will serve to strengthen links among stakeholders from academia and innovation and help dive into business cultures of each other’s countries. A market place on the afternoon of the first conference day will invite startup companies that have successfully come out from national and/or regional competition schemes in South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria to present prototypes of their business ideas. A jury panel with experts for the Swiss market fit will have the final say on those companies that will be invited for a 10 days residency stay in Switzerland in June 2023.

Traveling might not be possible for all of you. Therefore, we are glad to also include hybrid joining options via videoconferencing. The conference platform will allow you to start networking already two days before the event start and keep in contact with conference participants one week after the event ends.

The ultimate goal of this get-together in Johannesburg is to increase business network opportunities for academia related start-up companies and to enlarge our understanding of how to do business in different corners of Africa and Switzerland.

We very much look forward to welcoming you in person or online at the AIT SASBI Conference 2023.

Download the Official Invitation Letter as a PDF

Speakers and Panel

Keynote Speakers

Edwin Constable (Professor at University of Basel)

Edwin Constable

Professor at University of Basel

Victoria Galán-Muros (Chief of Research and Analysis at UNESCO)

Victoria Galán-Muros

Chief of Research and Analysis at UNESCO

Welcome Address

Jacquelene Friedenthal (Counsellor at Swiss Embassy)

Jacquelene Friedenthal

Counsellor at Swiss Embassy

Erik Stam (Professor at Utrecht University)

Erik Stam

Professor at Utrecht University


Nanci Govinder (Senior Executive at

Nanci Govinder

Senior Executive at

Simone Stuerwald (Professor at OST)

Simone Stuerwald

Professor at OST

Stephan Armin Hofer (Corporate Law Attorney at GHR)

Stephan Armin Hofer

Corporate Law Attorney at GHR

Jury Judges

Pauline Koelbl (Founder & CEO of Afriprospect)

Pauline Koelbl

Founder & CEO of Afriprospect

Nanci Govinder (Senior Executive at

Nanci Govinder

Senior Executive at

Colin Pillai (Founder of CP+ Associates)

Colin Pillai

Founder of CP+ Associates

Binod Koirala (Cluster Leader at EMPA)

Binod Koirala

Cluster Leader at EMPA

Simone Stuerwald (Professor at OST)

Simone Stuerwald

Professor at OST


Erich Thaler (International Stakeholder at Universitat Basel)

Erich Thaler

International Stakeholder at Universitat Basel

Dorina Kühner (Programme Manager at University of Basel)

Dorina Kühner

Programme Manager at University of Basel

Dr Norah Clarke (Director: Entrepreneurship of Universities South Africa (USAf))

Dr Norah Clarke

Director: Entrepreneurship of Universities South Africa (USAf)



You can download the program also as a PDF here.

All indicated times are shown in South African time zone. Swiss time zone -1H. For example 14:00 in Johannesburg is 13:00 in Basel.

Day 1
Wednesday 22 February 2023
Time Session / Speaker(s)
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast and registration
9:00 – 11:55
Opening Session
9:00 – 9:10 Welcome Remarks
Speaker: Mr Erich Thaler, Senior Manager Global Partnerships, University of Basel
9:10 – 9:20 Welcome Address on behalf of the Hosting Country
Speaker: Dr. Phethiwe Matutu, CEO, Universities South Africa (USAf)
9:20 – 9:30 Address on behalf of the Swiss Embassy
Speaker: Ms Jacquelene Friedenthal, Science and Technology Counsellor, Swiss Embassy in SA
9:30 – 9:45 Opening Address
What does it take to establish an entrepreneurial innovation-for impact ecosystem?Speaker: Prof. Dr. Erik Stam, Faculty Director: Center for Entrepreneurship, Utrecht University School of Economics
Keynotes Day 1
9:45 – 10:30 Keynote 1: Switzerland and Africa – A study in synergy and symbiosis

Speaker: Prof. em. Dr. Edwin Constable, Professor, Department of Chemistry,
University of Basel

10:30 -10:45 Coffee / Tea break
10:45 – 11:15 Keynote Panel
Approaching innovation for impact from within an African university
Prof. P. Ndirangu Kioni,
Vice Chancellor, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Kioni (Kenya)
Ms. Phatsimo Mosimanegape,
Senior Team Leader- Employability & Entrepreneurship Development, Botho University (Botswana),
Dr. Stephen Oluwatobi,
Group CEO, Pertinence Group and Co-Founder, Quanta Africa, (Nigeria)
11:15 – 11:30 Tech-driven Innovation. Results from the UNECA Technology Transfer Study
Speaker: Dr. Victor Konde: Scientific Affairs Officer, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia
11:30 – 11:55 Audience discussion
What is the relationship between innovation and technology transfer in your country?
Moderator: TBC
11:55 – 13:00 Networking @ Lunch
Social exchange and continuation of the audience discussion
12:00 – 12:30 Briefing of start-up presenters
13:00 – 13:10 MC: Introduction and Overview of the afternoon
Introduction of the audience to the public voting Introduction of Ms Nanci Govinder as Moderator of the start-up pitching session
13:00 – 17:00
Pitching contest of African startups from South Africa, Rwanda, and Nigeria
Moderator: Ms Nanci Govinder
13:10 – 13:15 Introduction by Moderator
Start-ups from South Africa
13:15 – 13:25 #1 LolaGreen
Plastic and industrial waste for synthesizing construction products
13:25 – 13:35 #2 eRank play
Online learning platform (maths)
13:35 – 13:45 #3 Not presenting
13:45 – 13:55 #4 Snake Nation
Blockchain solution for the creative economy
13:55 – 14:05 #5 Igugu Clean Tech
Tobacco plants for biodiesel production
14:05 – 14:20 Coffee / Tea break
Start-ups from Rwanda
14:20 – 14:30 #6 Renerubuzima
Digital Health Platform
14:30 – 14:40 #7 E-somero
Online e-books library
14:40 – 14:50 #8 Rwanda Green Light
Co2 for creating street light energy
Start-ups from Nigeria
14:50 – 15:00 #9 NG Trail
Enterprise staff learning online tool
15:00 – 15:10 #10 VAAV’s Innovative Solution
Power cube with clean electricity for the use of all
15:10 – 15:20 #11 IoTeam
Smart irrigation system
15:20 – 15:45 Coffee / Tea break
15:45 – 16:00 Jury panel members and startup companies
departing into their respective reflection groups
16:00 – 17:00 Start-up reflection group Moderator: Ms Dorina Kühner
Start-up Founders and Speakers: Ms Chido Dzinotyiwei; Ms Zuzana Sediva; Mr Manuel Seiffe. Venue: Score Board
Jury panel convenes for the selection of the winners (Swiss Residency Stay)/
decides on jury panel speaker
Facilitator: Mr Erich Thaler. Venue: Khanya
15:45 – 16:00

16:00 -17:00

Public voting on the start-up favorite

Animation MC

17:00 – 17:20 Announcement of the winners
– Jury panel speaker: Announcement of the winning start-ups
– MC: Announcement of the public vote
Closing remarks for Day 1
Speakers: MC / Mr Erich Thaler / Dr Norah Clarke
18:00 – 19:00 Dinner
Day 2
Thursday 23 February 2023
Time Session / Speaker(s)
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast and registration
Opening Session
9:00 – 12:15
9:00 – 9:10 Welcome and setting the stage for Day 2
Mr Erich Thaler
World Café and ZOOM breakaway sessions
World Café Format: Tables with 1 speaker/ 1 rapporteur per country topic will be set up. There, participants will engage in questions and discussions with country experts at the individual tables for 45 min., then move to the next table. At the end of the World Café sessions, the designated rapporteur will highlight the discussion outcomes.
Online: A hybrid Swiss – South African breakaway session will be moderated for both, the on-site and the online public.
Keynotes Day 2
9:10 – 9:55 Keynote 1: Sciencepreneurs and their (inter-) cultural challenges when expanding their businesses abroad
Speaker: Dr Victoria Galán-Muros, Chief of Research and Analysis, UNESCO
9:55 – 10:15 Discussion with panel members
10.15 – 10.25 Coffee / Tea break
World Café: How to do business in SASBI partnering countries
10:25 – 11:25 Input Panel: Introductory remarks for each country
Switzerland: Ms Stephanie Labité, Head, Swiss Business Hub in Southern Africa
Prof. Dr. Simone Stürwald, Professor for Sustainable Concrete and Structures
Mr Stephan Hofer, Attorney at Law
Ms Nanci Govinder, Start-up Trainer, Investor, Board Member
Ms Zuzana Sediva, Groam (Start-up)
Mr Manuel Seiffe, Mpower (Start-up) South Africa: Ms Senisha Moonsamy, Head of Innovation Skills Development and Enterprise, Development & Support (ISD), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)
Ms Ntsiki Mkhize, founder of MentHer Nigeria: Prof. Dr. Oyedunni Arulogun, Professor of Health Promotion and Education, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
11:25 – 11:30 Break
11:30 – 12:15 First round of world café sessions
12:15 – 13:15 Lunch Break
13:15 – 16:15
13:15 – 14:00 Second round of world café sessions
14:05 – 14:50 Third round of world café sessions
14:50 – 15:00 Break
15:00 – 15:30 Group discussion summary by group rapporteurs
15:30 – 16:00 Reactions, discussions and Q&A in the plenary
16:00 – 16:30 Break
16:30 – 16:50 Closing Keynote
What we can learn from the Swiss Entrepreneurship Ecosystem for Africa:
3 insights from someone who has straddled both worlds.
Speaker: Mr. York Zucchi, Founder of The StartUp Tribe
16:50 – 17:00 Summing up & Closing Ceremony
Speakers: MC / Mr Erich Thaler / Dr Norah Clarke


Last modified: 26. July 2023