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Inside the African AI Ecosystem: Intel® Liftoff Hackathon

Eugenie_Wirz
Employee
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Big things are happening in African AI, and Intel Liftoff’s Hackathon for African AI Startups was a unique opportunity to see it all taking shape. Two Intel Liftoff members joined Tony Mongkolsmai to reflect on this groundbreaking event and the impact it has had on the African AI ecosystem.

 

EpochZero: AI-Driven Medical Diagnostics

 

For Mayowa Abejirin, CEO of Nigerian AI startup EpochZero, the hackathon was an important avenue for innovation. Through the hackathon, EpochZero built a multimodal model that combined images with accompanying reports. This gave their AI model richer context, making it more useful for the over extended and under resourced radiologists and diagnostic labs who rely on it to make critical medical calls.

"It was really interesting because the model was kind of computationally expensive. We couldn't run it on-premise, but the hackathon gave us the platform to actually test it out for the first time," he remarked.

 

Contextual Fraud Detection: Innovative FinTech Solutions by Bilic

 

In a completely different domain, fellow hackathon participant Bilic has developed a large language model that uses context to detect and flag fraudulent activity. As co-founder Saminu Salisu explained, the support and resources that Bilic received from the Intel team were indispensable to the success of the model.

"The hackathon gave us immense value," he stated, emphasizing how it provided exposure and valuable connections for their startup.

 

Advice for Startups: Be Prepared, and Pick Your Battles

 

Both of these leaders agreed that startups need to prepare thoroughly before entering a hackathon in order to get the maximum value from the event itself.  Mayowa’s advice to future participants is to have a clear action plan and prototype ready to test. Saminu underscored the importance of focusing on one, specific problem, rather than trying to solve every issue at the same time. 

For both startups, the hackathon provided the basis of fruitful partnerships that have helped them with fundraising and investor engagement. You can listen to the full conversation here or watch the following video

 

More Innovation on the Horizon: Intel® Liftoff Africa Hackathon 2024

 

This episode of Code Together was yet another window into the kind of innovation that Intel Liftoff is fostering globally. It was also a timely one, because we’re about to return to Africa and pick up where we left off

Africa is brimming with AI potential, and the virtual Hackathon for AI Startups from African countries on May 27-31, 2024, is ground zero. Sign up today to propel your startup forward with unparalleled Intel expertise and resources. Application deadline: May 7, 2024.

About the Author
I'm a proud team member of the Intel® Liftoff for Startups, an innovative, free virtual program dedicated to accelerating the growth of early-stage AI startups.