Applications open for 1776 Challenge Cup


US accelerator 1776 has opened applications for its global startups competition, the Challenge Cup, with local heats to be held in six African countries.

The Challenge Cup sees startups compete through three stages. Approximately 20 startups pitch head-to-head in local competitions, with three at each event chosen to progress to the regional heat. Five regional winners will be selected to advance to the global finals, to be held in Washington DC in June 2016.

At the global finals, startups will compete for US$175,000 in cash prizes and up to US$1,000,000 in investment from the 1776 Seed Fund.

In Africa, 1776 announced local heats will be held in Pretoria, South Africa; Casablanca in Morocco; Ugandan capital Kampala; Accra in Ghana; Harare, Zimbabwe; and Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The African heats will kick off in Ghana in October; with the Ugandan and Zimbabwean events to be held in November, South Africa and Morocco in December, and Ethiopia in January. Exact dates are yet to be confirmed.

The winners of the locals will progress to the regional competition, to be held at Nairobi’s iHub in February. Kenyan startups can apply directly for the regional event.

“Innovative startups are emerging in places far beyond traditional entrepreneurial centers like Silicon Valley. For this year’s Challenge Cup, 1776 will search both expected and unexpected places, leaving no stone unturned to find tomorrow’s game-changing companies,” said Evan Burfield, 1776 co-founder and co-chief executive officer (CEO).

Last year’s competition saw 1776 partner with Kenya’s iHub for the first time, for the only African stop of the Challenge Cup. 30 startups competed in Kenya, with four progressing to the global finals.

1776 also introduced a “People’s Choice” online public vote, with four winners – one of which was Kenya’s Strauss Energy – securing an automatic place to pitch at the finals.

Disrupt Africa reported in May Kenyan startup Twiga Fruits went on to be named overall winner of the global finals of the Challenge Cup, winning US$150,000 in funding.

“Last year we hosted the Challenge Cup in Nairobi, Kenya and Twiga Foods went on from that regional competition to win the global finals. We are very much looking forward to meeting more entrepreneurs across Africa in this year’s expanded competition,” Burfield said.

Applications can be submitted here. Submissions for the local heats close three weeks before the event; while applications direct to regional heats close one month before the event.


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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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