SAIS 2 RE:innovation Challenge Call is Open!

Introducing RE:innovation

The RE:innovation challenge call for proposals has been extended to 4 October 2020

The Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2) RE: innovation challenge is calling for proposals from projects to pilot and validate solutions to make Southern African startup ecosystems more resilient and better able to face an uncertain future.

A maximum of six (6) applications will be selected for grant funding of between EUR 30,000 and EUR 50,000 per project for a maximum of five months. A matching funding minimum of 20% (10% cash and 10% in kind) is required from the applicants.

The SAIS 2 RE:innovation challenge is open from Wednesday, 26 August, and now closes on Sunday, 4 October 2020 at 23:59 CAT.

For further information, please download the Call Text and Guide for Applicants, and watch the video on this page.

SAIS 2's Third Call for Proposals

The RE:innovation Challenge Call

Startup ecosystems play a critical role in providing an environment in which African startups can thrive and grow. In many countries, these systems are still young and are often vulnerable to unforeseen events such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Unexpected shocks can interrupt the operation of startups, incubators, universities, and even large firms for a significant time. Therefore, it is vital to strengthen the ecosystems' ability to rapidly recover from negative events. Such resilience is also the key enabling factor to ecosystems’ development and growth.

For this reason, SAIS 2’s RE:innovation challenge is looking for visionaries who can offer technology-enabled solutions that strengthen innovation and startup ecosystems in Southern Africa. 

SAIS 2 recognises technologies in the line of the fourth industrial revolution, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless information and communication technologies, as empowering technologies driving the scalability of startup innovations and the resilience in ecosystems.

Are you a visionary with a possible solution?

How winning projects will benefit from participating in the RE:innovation challenge

  • A maximum of six (6) projects will be selected pilot testing or validating the proposed solution.
  • Each selected project will receive a SAIS 2 grant of between EUR 30,000 and EUR 50,000 per project, depending of the project budget proposed. The applicant has to provide at least 20% matching funding to counter the SAIS 2 grant (10% cash and 10% in kind).
  • Selected projects will have a maximum of five (5) months start and finish their project, including the project launch, piloting/validation, and final reporting.
  • Selected projects will have an opportunity to present the solutions and the results to a network of entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem stakeholders, which could lead to new opportunities for the proposed solution.

To answer the RE:innovation challenge call, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You have identified a challenge to and a solution that strengthens the resilience of a startup ecosystem in one of the following countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia.
  • The solution is technology-enabled and easily adapted for quick implementation.
  • You have a project consortium comprising innovation support organisations such as incubators, hubs, labs, and accelerators as well as research/academia, private sector and public entities, and/or NGOs hosting and supporting youth entrepreneurship and startups.
  • Your project consortium must have at least one innovation support organisation as a member, which will also act as the project coordinator.
  • Your project coordinator is a registered legal entity in one of the five SAIS 2 partner countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia).

If you believe you’re the visionary we’re looking for, download our Call Text and Guide for Applicants for more details and instructions to apply.

More Information

RE:innovation Challenge Documents

Read these documents for full details and instructions to apply. Also included below is the budget template, which is to be used when applying for grant funding as part of the RE:innovation challenge.

Apply here

Link to the SmartME Portal

The call for applications runs from 26 August until 23:59 CAT on 4 October 2020.

Once you have read the documents above, click here to be taken to the SmartMe Application form.  

Instructions for signing up and activating your SmartME profile is available in the RE:innovation Guide for Applicants.

RE:innovation Challenge Call for Proposals

Indicative Timeline

August–October 2020
Application Period
October 2020
Evaluation of applications
October 2020
Shortlist approved
October 2020
Grant agreement negotiations
October 2020
March 2021
Project and contract end

Frequently Asked Questions

There are no specific sectors targeted by the call. Your project needs to contribute to the resilience of a startup ecosystem(s) in a given locality.

SAIS 2 will only accept proposals from project consortiums with an innovation support organisation as a project coordinator. The project coordinator has to be a legally registered entity in one of the SAIS 2 partner countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia). 

Entrepreneurs with legally registered enterprises are encouraged to enter into a consortium coordinated by an innovation support organisation.

A project consortium is an association of two or more companies or organisations with the objective to participate in a common activity and/or to pool their resources for the achievement of a common goal through a project supported by the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund.

An innovation support organisation is any entity that hosts entrepreneurs and startups in their physical premises and provides them with technical, financial, or other types of support. Examples of such organisations include incubators, hubs, labs, and accelerators as well as research/academia, private sector and public entities, and NGOs hosting and supporting youth entrepreneurship and startups.

The project coordinator organisation must be a registered legal entity based and operating in one of the five SAIS 2 partner countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia). In addition, if your project is successful, the project coordinator is expected to be the organisation signatory to the grant agreement and will be responsible for the overall coordination of the project, with the responsibility to keep the other members informed of the group’s progress and intended activities. The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund Manual, which contains further detail on managing the grant and a grant-funded project, will be provided to all winning applicants.

The project consortium applying for a grant from the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund must consist of at least two independent legal entities, one of which is required to be the project coordinator and based in one of the SAIS 2 partner countries. Other project members can come from anywhere in the world and international collaboration is encouraged. Projects with a partner from Finland will be given preference during the evaluation.

All members of consortiums interested in applying for grant funding from SAIS 2 must be registered legal entities, i.e. enterprises, public bodies, or non-profit organisations. Individual persons are not eligible to apply for SAIS 2 grants.

The amount you are requesting should equal 80% of the total project cost. The grant amount should range from EUR 30,000 to EUR 50,000.

The total project cost is the total amount of resources needed for your project. This includes SAIS 2 grant and matching funding from project consortium.

Yes, matching funding is the same as co-financing. A matching contribution is required to be committed by project consortiums that apply for a grant from SAIS 2’s RE:innovation challenge. This is a requirement to demonstrate applicants’ commitment, ownership, and risk-sharing promise to the project and its success. Matching funding can also be used to pay for costs not covered by the grant.

The matching funding should equal a minimum of 20% of the total project cost. The matching funding minimum is broken down as 10% of project cost in cash and 10% in kind. There is no limit to how much matching funding can be provided for the project. Applicants with a higher percentage of matching funding in cash will be given preference in the evaluation.

If your project is successful, the proof of the minimum of 10% in-cash contribution is a bank guarantee or a bank statement, which will be shown at the latest before the signing of the grant agreement. Your minimum of 10% in-kind contribution can be provided during the implementation of the project and should be included in all submitted financial reports.

The SAIS 2 grant only covers direct costs associated with the implementation of the project. In the case of any additional indirect costs that are not immediately associated with the process, these costs need to be covered with matching funding provided by the project consortium. The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund Manual, which contains further detail on managing the grant and a grant-funded project, is provided for all winning applicants.

SAIS 2 will gladly accept applications from interventions already supported by other financiers and/or donors. The project or part of the project proposed to be funded by the SAIS 2 grant needs to be complementary and not overlap with existing activities.

SAIS 2 uses the SmartME online platform for the preparation and submission of proposals. You can find the link to the SmartME platform to start your application here. The proposal must be drafted in the format prescribed on this platform. Take note of the help text and descriptive text in the application to guide you in its completion.

All data entered on the SmartME system is secure. All operations and practices regarding the collection, storage, and processing of personal information are in accordance with the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and the Finnish law 22.4.1999/523 implementing the directive.

Submitting an application via email, regular mail, or any other channel is not possible, and submissions made in any way other than through SmartME will automatically be rejected.

All applications must be submitted in English. Applications submitted in any other language will be automatically disqualified.

The SmartME system has an operational helpdesk support function. This function is located on the left-hand side of the applicant page and on the homepage once you are logged into the system. The helpdesk responds to a query within 48 hours. Alternatively, you can also send a query to

No additional time extensions will be given to applicants for any reason after the deadline has passed.

Once you are logged into the system, a countdown timer will begin and will show how much time is left for you to complete your application. The SmartME system will automatically close at the deadline.

The budget template is uploaded in the challenge documents section of the RE:innovation web page.

All proposals need to be submitted by 23:59 CAT on 4 October 2020.

All applicants will be sent an email confirmation of a received application. Please check your email spam folder if you do not receive a confirmation email as it might have been classified as spam by your email server. If you did not receive an email notification within 24 hours of submitting your application, please contact SAIS 2 at immediately.

A notification will be emailed to you within one month of the application deadline to inform you of whether you were selected for the negotiation stage.

There is no appeal process. Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to the RE:innovation Call Text and Guide for Applicants for details on the project eligibility criteria, which will demonstrate attributes that strong projects should emulate.

RE:innovation Foresight Training

Introduction to Foresight for Innovation and Resilience


The Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2) in partnership with Fraser Consulting is hosting an online training course Introduction to Foresight for Innovation and Resilience. The main beneficiaries of this training course will be local authorities and government agencies that work with innovation and startups in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. These authorities and agencies will receive training in applying Foresight methods for planning and implementing policies supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. At the end of the RE:Innovation challenge’s implementation period, the RE:Innovation challenge projects will present their results to the local authorities' representatives who participated in the Foresight training.

More About the Course

The Introduction to Strategic Foresight for Innovation and Resilience training will be delivered as an online course that supports participants to use accessible yet effective Foresight tools. The course comprises an introduction and five video modules – a module will be released each week in September 2020. 

The format is loosely based on the approach taken in the Stanford Continuing Studies’ Designing the Future of Your Organisation online course. The content is recorded and self-paced, and will be made available to anyone wishing to learn more. 

Why strategic foresight?

We all need to be agile and creative in our responses to uncertainties and change arising from system-wide shocks. In addition, the current pandemic has highlighted the need to Build Back Better, in other words, to reinforce systems in a way that builds resilience against high-impact negative events. 

Strategic Foresight is a way of thinking that allows individuals or teams to better anticipate the changes that will impact their lives and to come up with ways to work through challenges and grab emerging opportunities. In Strategic Foresight, a variety of tools are used to apply hindsight and current insights to understand potential challenges and opportunities in the near future. Strategic Foresight also supports teams to create a path and map out resources in order to apply this “blue-sky thinking” in reality. 

This training, Strategic Foresight for Innovation and Resilience, will introduce participants to skills and tools they can use to become more adaptable and resilient.

Who should learn about Strategic Foresight?

Individuals enthusiastic about improving their strategic and creative thinking skills, and can put learnings to use in their work as well as people involved in developing an organisation's approach to emerging challenges, or in training entrepreneurs to do so, will get a lot of value out of the course.

Participants may include key decision-makers in municipalities, trainers and training coordinators from innovation support agencies, strategic leadership, or anyone leading initiatives in the startup ecosystems. 

After the initial piloting, the course and tools will be open for professionals interested to create their own Foresight strategy.