06 May 2020

Announcing BOOST UP 2020

Announcing BOOST UP 2020

The SAIS 2 Connected Hubs network, coordinated by the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), is proud to announce that the BOOST UP startup series will open for applications on 8 May 2020. 

BOOST UP is a three-part series of activities in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia aiming to provide startups with knowledge and training to scale up. The Connected Hubs are looking for outstanding startups that are using technology to solve a societal challenge. These startups will be put through training during Set Up, and the best startups from this stage will be selected to participate in the Stand Up Pitch Competition for a chance to represent their countries during the BOOST UP Bootcamp.

This is a great opportunity for startups to learn important skills (especially how to pitch their business) and to network and meet new people who might be able to help them on their startup journey. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, most of BOOST UP 2020 will be held online.   


Applications for Set Up will be open from 8 May to 31 May 2020. Startups that are chosen will participate in the online Set Up training for a few weeks in June or July. Training will focus on pitching and may include a few other skills/ topics deemed relevant by the organisation hosting the event in each partner country. 

Startups are encouraged to apply for the BOOST UP Set Up training if:

  • They are located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia.
  • They use technology to solve a societal challenge in Southern Africa.
  • They are eager to scale up their business and have a scalable business model.
  • They are developing or finalising a prototype, or have a prototype ready.
  • The startup has a minimum of two team members interested in participating.
  • The applicant is authorised to submit the application on behalf of the team.
  • The applicant and/or startup have not won a SAIS 2-associated national pitch competition and participated in the BOOST UP Bootcamp 2019, Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2018, or been sponsored by SAIS 2 to participate in Slush 2017

While BOOST UP does not exclude anyone that meets these characteristics, women and young people aged 18 to 35 are especially encouraged to apply. 

BOOST UP Stand Up Pitch Competition

The strongest participants during the Set Up stage will be invited to showcase their innovations and startups through a national pitch competition called Stand Up. The organisers in each country will test the startup’s application of the skills and knowledge they acquired both during Set Up and through their own research, and winners will be selected in each country to take part in Scale Up.


The national Stand Up winners will undergo further online training from September to November and a bootcamp that is planned to take place in Helsinki, Finland, in November 2020 (depending on whether travel and gatherings will be permitted). BOOST UP Bootcamp takes the form of intensive entrepreneurship and startup workshops with some of the best and brightest knowledge partners in Connected Hubs’s and SAIS 2’s international network. This event will wrap up with a pitch competition between all the national winners, and one startup will emerge as the winner of BOOST UP 2020.

This is an excellent opportunity for startups to grow, and all eligible startups are invited to apply. For more information, please visit the BOOST UP website.