African German Entrepreneurship Academy (AGEA) Business Idea Competition 2021 for early-stage Entrepreneurs (€2,000+ Prize)

Application Deadline: October 31st 2021

As part of its mandate, the AGEA network collaborates with dedicated academic and business partners in Africa and Germany to promote practice-oriented entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurship promotion and developing business start-ups for Africa. One of the flagship products that AGEA delivers is its annual AGEA Business Idea Competition (ABIC). ABIC is organised to reach out, identify and support innovative entrepreneurial solutions to African challenges by African students, entrepreneurs, academics and researchers within the AGEA network and beyond. This year, the idea competition focuses on generating entrepreneurial and commercially viable solutions from research that can become spin-off start-ups or companies. 

Universities (and other HEIs) worldwide generate new knowledge through diverse research activities. Technological inventions are also key outcomes of research at universities and HEIs. However, in most universities, research only contributes to advancing the scientific knowledge frontier. Much of the new knowledge and technologies generated through research at universities remain shelved, unexploited and rarely commercialised into products and/or services for the market that benefit society at large. As a result, a knowledge and technology transfer gap exists in many fields. While this is a global challenge, the gap is considered wider in developing contexts like Africa.

As demonstrated by few universities that have been structured to convert new knowledge into products and services through spin-offs companies, the basis for the university’s growth and spin-off or research-based start-up collaboration is reciprocal. The impact of firms originating from research-based solutions is evident in the resulting returns (economic, social, technological and/or environmental) from commercialising for the universities, the researchers, entrepreneurs, and the larger society. These spin-off or start-up firms, in exchange, provide funds and job opportunities to the university to generate more knowledge through further research activities. 

To promote research-based spin-off entrepreneurship, researchers, academic staff and students at HEIs need to develop their science in a way that can lead to real-world impact and be able to adapt the outcomes of their research into viable commercial enterprises. ABIC 2021 thus offers students,  researchers, academics at African universities as well as early-stage entrepreneurs (alumni) the opportunity to initiate their entrepreneurial journeys leading to the establishment of research spin-off start-ups.

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  • ABIC 2021 is open to submissions with innovative ideas and solutions from all fields of scientific research, sectors and industries. These include but are not limited to sectors such as health, education, agriculture, information technology, finance and commerce, enterprise development  and trade, transport, water and sanitation, among others.
  • It is important that the solution or product emanates from ongoing or completed scientific research undertaken by students or research and academic staff at an African University. 
  • The submitted ideas should thus offer sustainable solutions to real-work challenges which satisfying a market need, especially but not limited to Africa.
  • Early-stage entrepreneurs who are university alumni can also participate in the competition as team members with students or researchers.


Interested persons from universities, research institutions and other HEIs in Africa can participate in the competition. Eligible participants must be:

  1. Students (Masters and PhD) 
  2. Academic staff (lecturers, professors) and researchers
  3. Early-stage entrepreneurs (university alumni – Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate)

How to Participate

Participation can be in one of two (2) forms: 

  1. An individual student, researcher, academic staff; or
  2. team consisting of students, researchers, and entrepreneurs. At least one team member should be a student, academic staff or researcher. 

Female participation: The participation of women is highly encouraged in this competition. Teams are encouraged to consider involving women as team members where possible.


  • Each person can participate only once in the competition, either as an individual or a team member. This implies that a participating individual can only be a member of one team for this competition.
  • A participating individual or team can submit only one entry into the competition.
  • Multiple submissions from the same individual or team is unacceptable.
  • The business idea you intend to submit should be based on academic/scientific research conducted by or had at least one of the team members involved.
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Stages of the Competition

The following are the stages for the competition:

Stage 1: Registration and Submission of Idea

Stage 2: Evaluation and Selection of Top 6

Stage 3: Pitch Training and Development of Pitch Video for Top 6

Stage 4: Online Final Event and Selection of Top 3 Winners

Awards and Prizes

The selected Top 6 submissions will have to produce a short pitch video (maximum 3 minutes) that will be aired in the online Final Event on 30 November 2021. Participants will have the chance to respond to questions and clarifications from the final Jury. The jury will award scores to each Top 6 submissions. The Top 3 winners for the AGEA Business Idea Competition 2021 will be determined by the total scores amassed by each idea.

Additionally, an Audience award will be presented to the submission that receives the highest number of votes from the participating audience in the Final Event. An online voting channel will be used and details will be communicated later.


The Top 3 ideas will receive the following prizes: 

  1. First Prize – €1,000 
  2. Second Prize – €500
  3. Third Prize – €300
  4. Audience Award – €500 

Post-Competition Support

The post-competition support is available to all innovative and promising ideas that enter the competition, regardless of whether end up as prize winners or not. The following support will be extended to teams or individuals that will be selected for their innovative ideas.

  1. Incubation Support: Innovative ideas with promise will be identified and provided with incubation support for commercialisation. This will be implemented through the network of AGEA partners in Africa and Germany. For example, the Centre for Business Development – Kumasi Business Incubator at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana, INES Incubation Centre at INES-Ruhengeri in Rwanda, and the Self-Management Initiative Leipzig (SMILE) at Leipzig University, in Germany. 
  2. Coaching and Mentoring: Ideas will be linked to international business development experts within the AGEA Network who will serve as coaches and mentors. The coaches and mentors will work with the individuals or teams to shape the ideas into bankable business models and business plans.
  3. TrainingSpecialised knowledge and skills are required to manage start-ups successfully. Therefore, tailored training sessions will be organised for the teams to provide the knowledge, skills and tools needed to manage the start-up. This training will be delivered in collaboration with SMILE, which has over the past 15 years supported over 600 start-ups in Germany and more than €42 million in funding support for start-ups. External experts will be brought in when required to provide a comprehensive training. 
  4. Support for funding applications:Selected ideas will have access to the vast experience and expertise available within AGEA to support their application for further funding from funding institutions in Germany and elsewhere.
  5. Support through Intellectual Property (IP) related issues
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  • Submission Portal Closes – Deadline: 31 October 2021
  • Evaluation and Selection of Top 6 Ideas: 01 – 07 November 2021
  • Announcement of Top 6 Ideas: 08 November 2021
  • Pitching Webinar: 10/11 November 2021
  • Preparation and Submission of Top 6 Pitch Videos: 12 November – 30 November 2021
  • Final Awards Event (Online): 07 December 2021
  • Post-Competition Support begins: January 2022

Send your questions and clarifications through email to Bismark Agyei Yeboah (

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the AGEA Business Idea Competition 2021

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