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Behind the Criteria: Innovation

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

First things first, innovation does not equal high tech engineering

Innovation is the second of five criteria which the Yale Africa Startup Review uses to evaluate startups for #YASR30. Even for the most seasoned panel of judges or investors, evaluating innovation is not an exact calculation. It's more an art than science; a seemingly more innovative pitch doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful venture. An innovative idea may be wrong for a specific market; inappropriately directed at a set of problems; introduced at the wrong time; or, not fit the state of affairs.

At the Yale Africa Startup Review we take a 360-degree vantage point. We celebrate futuristic technologies, like a manufacturing robot, just as much as strategy innovation, like new business model to help farmers access capital markets. Neither is better than the other; however, we focus on companies that are innovating for the local African market in which they operate and have potential for significant impact to people and businesses. We also believe in the learning process is just as important for the startup. Nominated startups tell us how they are leveraging insights and feedback from their customers to learn how to improve their offering - even if it means slowing down to rethink their strategy or redesign their product.

This may be the hard way, but we believe that it's the best way to tell a dynamic story about each startup to the world. A machine learning algorithm isn't necessarily more innovative than the new business process. Digitizing tax collection shouldn't be viewed as less innovative than a technology enabled peer-lending platform.Our goal is to feature, not to rank and to tell stories of an from the entrepreneurship ecosystem across the catalog - not catalog the most futuristic startups.

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