Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Samir Abdelkrim: "Digital has made Emerging Valley even more connected, denser and more essential for Africa-Europe innovation ecosystems"

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, April 9th 2021 à 16:27 | Read 486 times

Samir Abdelkrim organised the fourth edition of Emerging Valley in Marseille on 7 and 8 April 2021, which was broadcast online because of Covid-19. He explains in exclusivity for the usefulness of this link between Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa for start-ups and innovation, which is gaining in importance every year.

Samir Abdelkrim did not want to give up the 4th edition of Emerging Valley, despite Covid (photo: F.Dubessy)
Samir Abdelkrim did not want to give up the 4th edition of Emerging Valley, despite Covid (photo: F.Dubessy) You have just organised the fourth edition of Emerging Valley on 7 and 8 April 2021, unfortunately in virtual form because of the pandemic. Is this a hindrance for an event that aims to bring together women and men from European, Mediterranean and African ecosystems?

Samir Abdelkrim: We had to postpone our event, which was planned for December 2020, because of Covid-19. But very quickly, with our partners, we decided to maintain it by moving it to April 2021. It is now, and more than ever with the impact of the coronavirus, which is not only sanitary but also economic, that we must prepare the world after, the rebound, the recovery.
The digital format allowed us to innovate, to set up simultaneous sessions and replay. We brought together more than 200 speakers, we are really on a qualitative progression in terms of content compared to 2019 and the ecosystems responded with more than fifteen country delegations (Mauritania, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Tunisia...).
The paradox is that far from being a hindrance, digital technology has made the event even more connected, denser and more essential for the Africa-Europe innovation ecosystems.

Mediterranean start-ups lead in Africa

Are Mediterranean start-ups still doing well in terms of innovation, despite the effects of the pandemic?
S.A.: Yes, and we saw it clearly in the latest Partech Africa report, the start-ups that are raising the most funds on the African continent, despite Covid, are in North Africa, particularly in Egypt, but also in Tunisia and Algeria. We ourselves support them through Emerging Mediterranean, an initiative labelled Summit of the Two Shores, which consists in identifying and accelerating Mediterranean start-ups. We do this through the Social Inclusive Business Camp (SIBC) programme which offers them several months of acceleration and then a connection with investors. Among them, we have a Libyan, an Algerian, a Tunisian and a Mauritanian.

In December 2020, you launched an event called "Tech For Good in the Mediterranean" with the ambition of making it Emerging Valley's acceleration programme in the Mediterranean countries. Four months later, how are the five selected technological nuggets doing?

S.A.: Launched in December 2020, Emerging Mediterranean has been a great success. Not only did we support the five start-ups identified, but we also provided them with seed funding. Now we are accelerating them through a three-month BootCamp. After two days of intensive acceleration, on 5 and 6 April 2021, they were put in touch with around thirty investors through our "speed speeching" (editor's note: "rapid oral presentation of the company") which took place during the first morning of Emerging Valley in "side event" mode.

The 4th edition of Emerging Valley took place in phygital from Marseille (photo: F.Dubessy)
The 4th edition of Emerging Valley took place in phygital from Marseille (photo: F.Dubessy)

A fifth edition of Emerging Valley in... 2021

How are your relations with the organisers of the future Two Shores Summit progressing?

S.A.: We are still very closely associated with the civil society ecosystem around the Two Shores Summit and we continue to contribute ideas and projects, notably through Emerging Mediterranean.

Our relations are very positive. We have already organised a collective intelligence lab with the IRD, Mediterranean and local incubators, the AFD (French Development Agency), the Bouches-du-Rhône department and in the presence of the DiMed (Interministerial Delegation for the Mediterranean - France) on the theme of biodiversity 2.0. We want to go further in bringing together the world of science, researchers, biodiversity and start-ups.

Will there be a fifth edition of Emerging Valley? If so, are you thinking of moving it to the other side of the Mediterranean?

S.A.: Yes, there will be a fifth edition! It will not take place in 2022, but at the end of 2021. We are going to continue to strengthen our presence on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, notably thanks to Emerging Mediterranean, and therefore organise more events on this shore. However, the Emerging Valley event, on which there is a consensus on the strong legitimacy of Marseilles to host it, will remain very strongly anchored in Marseilles, Provence and the metropolitan area. We are determined to maintain a strong link with Marseille, and we will continue to do so.

Emerging Valley's ambition is to be an essential player in the ecosystem of support and links with investors and to be the meeting place for the two ecosystems in the region. At the same time, we have small events in Africa, particularly in Casablanca.

To answer your question more precisely, this initiative takes place on two shores. We always offer a BootCamp for the selection and support of start-ups in Casablanca and the digital summit for the selection of the winners in Marseille. That's why it's called the Two Shores BootCamp.


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