The AI Africa Consortium partners with Cirrus AI to bring large-scale AI infrastructure capacity and expertise to the African research community and industry.
Wits University invites Africa’s research community to join its newly formed AI Africa Consortium which aims to develop a collaborative network focussed on the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and the application of AI in research and innovation. Watch Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University announcing the Consortium in his welcoming address of AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE.
To bridge the “Valley of Death” and overcome the challenge of turning a start-up idea or scientific research into large-scale commercial application.
Ensuring inclusive participation, the dissemination of knowledge and ideas, and the development of the next generation of African AI researchers.
The research and development activities of the Members of the AI Africa Consortium will be supported by access to state-of-the-art computing infrastructure and teams of hardware, software, machine learning and data engineers.
Supporting interdisciplinary cooperation spanning academia and industry around the world, boosting the application of AI technologies, and ensuring the transformative potential benefits the region.
For the majority of investments capital will be allocated at the pre-seed stage, with investments of up to 250 000 USD. The FOUNDRY Fund will also follow a lead investor in seed rounds, with investments of up to 500 000 USD.
The FOUNDRY Fund will invest in startups that have:
- Cirrus student or alum from the Residency, PhD Internship, Postdoc or Assistantship programs.
- Cirrus research scientist.
- Participating university faculty member.
- As well as any start-up using technologies based on Cirrus research.
There are three Cirrus FOUNDRY Academic Programs.
Cirrus FOUNDRY PhD Internship program
In this 5-month program interns collaborate with scientists and engineers to design, implement and evaluate machine learning algorithms and techniques. They will also collaborate with entrepreneurs, financiers, and product managers. Interns engage in team collaborations to meet product goals and bridge the gap between research and products by integrating new research into applied projects and products. Interns will be studying towards a PhD in machine learning or a related field and are in their penultimate or final year of study.
Cirrus FOUNDRY Residency program
In this 12-month program residents actively contribute to start-ups in the Cirrus FOUNDRY. By the end of the program, residents will have significant experience of working in a real world start-up. Similar in nature to the Cirrus Residency Program, but incorporates a greater diversity of fields including finance, law, project management, marketing, communications and MBA’s. Targeted at individuals who are motivated to learn and have a strong interest and passion for the real world application of machine learning, particularly in a start-up context.
Partner and Affiliate program integration
Corporate participants in the Cirrus ecosystem will work with the Cirrus FOUNDRY start-ups to provide industry-specific knowledge and resources to reduce the latency in bringing innovations to market in addition to providing entrepreneurs with added visibility and mentorship. Corporate participants will also gain insight into transformative new technologies and business opportunities.
University students, researchers and faculty, will be able to visit the Cirrus FOUNDRY each month for classes, events, and workshops.
Monthly classes, events and workshops will provide:
- Case studies on AI companies.
- Business coaching.
- Interactive brainstorming.
- Pitch competitions.
- Meeting potential project partners.
- Guidance on proof of concept for product validation and market identification.
Cirrus will maintain and distribute marketing material, use cases, and position papers from Tier 1 Consortium Members. The Consortium will work to ensure such material are distributed to other Consortium Members and non-members as appropriate and promoted at Consortium hosted events.