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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Witbooi

Saint-Gobain and AfricArena partner to launch an open innovation challenge for African tech startups

Saint-Gobain and AfricArena partner to launch an open innovation challenge for African tech startups in innovative procurement, logistics, and circular economy solutions for construction materials

Saint-Gobain and AfricArena join forces to empower early-stage tech solutions in Sustainable Smart Cities and Value chains in Africa

Saint-Gobain places open innovation at the heart of its strategy. That is why this year the Group is joining forces with AfricArena - an African tech ecosystem accelerator and deal-flow platform - to launch an open innovation challenge, targeted at startups with innovative procurement, logistics, and circular economy solutions for construction materials operating in Africa, specifically in Egypt, Kenya and South Africa. This innovation project has come at a time when supply chain disruptions have accelerated in the continent faster than ever before.

For over 350 years Saint-Gobain has been designing materials and solutions that have a tangible positive impact on people’s lives. Being present in 18 countries in Africa, the Group works with local partners to imagine solutions which enhance an individual’s quality of life and address the social, societal and environmental challenges. Research and Innovation are at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s strategy, and in line with this, the Group supports the development of Africa, by providing solutions tailored to local needs.

Saint-Gobain and AfricArena have previously partnered in numerous open innovation challenges since 2018. These challenges have sought tech solutions ranging from analysis tools to predict climate changes, to digital platforms to enhance the skills of workers.

Under the current supply chain disruptions the world is facing, procurement and logistics solutions digitizing and optimizing processes, as well as, circular economy solutions focusing on limiting and reusing waste are seen as major levers of efficiency. This is why Saint-Gobain is once again partnering with AfricArena to bring an open innovation challenge dedicated to startups with innovative procurement, logistics, and circular economy solutions for construction materials. The Challenge is supported by Nova, the external ventures arm of Saint-Gobain.

The challenge will target :

- Dedicated platforms, solutions and marketplaces for construction materials, enabling more transparency over construction materials specifications and data, or digitizing and optimizing the purchasing process, etc.

- Delivery and logistic solutions for construction sites tackling both in-flows of construction materials and out-flows of construction waste or material surplus, etc.

Startups operating in any of the above verticals must be based in any of these markets: Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa. The startups must have proved product-market-fit as well as market validation. In terms of venture maturity, this challenge accepts applications from startups between the Seed and Series A stages.


3 startups (each from the aforementioned markets) will be selected to pitch at the annual AfricArena 2022 Summit in Cape Town in late November - where they will showcase their solutions in front of Saint-Gobain executives as well as investors looking for world-class talent to partner with.

Before the Summit, the finalists will also participate in a full day of workshops (The Founders Bootcamp, in partnership with FSAT Labs) on pitching, engaging with investors and business development.

The winning startup (and potential finalists) will have the opportunity to work with Saint-Gobain businesses to deploy a POC solution. Furthermore, AfricArena will award each of the 3 finalist startups US$10,000 worth of Amazon Web Services credit.


Startups that are interested in taking part in the Challenge can submit their application here.


For Egypt: 31 July 2022 at 23:59 GMT+2

For Kenya: 31 August at 23:59 GMT+2

For South Africa: 15 October at 23:59 GMT+2


“We are thrilled to partner with Saint-Gobain and its corporate venture fund Nova for another innovation challenge this year. Through this new collaboration, we are aiming to identify the best African startups who, through their innovative solutions, will have a real and tangible impact and help the Supply Chain industry evolve in Africa,” says Christophe Viarnaud, CEO at AfricArena.

ABOUT SAINT-GOBAIN. Saint-Gobain designs manufacture and distribute materials and solutions for the construction, mobility, healthcare and other industrial application markets. Developed through a continuous innovation process, they can be found everywhere in our living places and daily life, providing wellbeing, performance and safety, while addressing the challenges of sustainable construction, resource efficiency and the fight against climate change. This strategy of responsible growth is guided by the Saint-Gobain purpose, “MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER HOME”, which response to the shared ambition of all the women and men in the Group to act every day to make the world a more beautiful and sustainable place to live in.

€38.1 billion in sales in 2020

More than 167,000 employees, located in 70 countries

Committed to achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2050

For more information about Saint-Gobain,

visit and follow us on Twitter @saintgobain

ABOUT AFRICARENA. South Africa-based AfricArena is a tech ecosystem accelerator & deal flow platform in Africa. The 2022 annual Summit will take place in late November 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. the summit involves two days of conferences, a Bootcamp for startups and an unconference for Africa-focused investors - a series of impact events aimed at creating links and opportunities between startups, investors and corporations. AfricArena stands as a bridge between the international and African tech innovation ecosystems. It represents an opportunity to explore tomorrow’s trends, discover today’s best companies, start-ups and innovations, and be inspired by the most disruptive ideas and people of the moment. To find out more about AfricArena, please visit

For any questions or clarification on this press release, reach out to the AfricArena team at:

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