Investing in Innovation (i3), a pan-African support initiative for African health supply chain start-ups, has announced its first cohort of 30 companies.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, AUDA-NEPAD, and AmerisourceBergen, i3 unites leading donors, industry, and African institutions to jump-start a new way of doing business to support African-led innovations in health. Selected start-ups will receive a $50,000 grant and support to catalyse growth-driven partnerships with donors, industry and institutions.
The 30 companies selected hail from 14 African countries. Operating in early- and growth-stages, the companies are delivering novel solutions for device and medicines distribution, stock management and financing, authentication, traceability, medical waste management and more – demonstrating that African-built solutions are poised to help transform access to health products in many ways. 47% of the companies are women-led (which the program defines as having at least one woman with an equity stake and active executive leadership role), and 30% of the companies are operating in Francophone Africa.
Ann Allen, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation comments “Digitally-enabled, locally-led innovations have huge potential to help address the challenges of access to medicines for historically unserved patients in Africa. We are thrilled to see strong women leaders at the helm of many of these start-ups, as we know innovation ecosystems are strengthened by diversity.”
The selected companies are, in alphabetical order: Chekkit Technologies, Disrupt Pharma Tech Africa (Medsaf), DrugStoc Ehub Limited, Erith Health Services, Gricd, LifeBank, Lifestores Healthcare, OneHealth, ClinicPesa, Damu Sasa, The Pathology Network, Negus Med, Signalytic,
Viebeg Technologies, Zuri Health, Xetova, Cure Bionics, DeepEcho, Dr Sett, Infiuss Health Limited, Medevice, Meditect, Sobrus, Valorigo, Azanza Health, Appy Saude, Aviro Health, Contro, VaxiGlobal, Zinacare.
Dr Abdullahi Sheriff, Associate Vice President of Global Market Access at MSD noted “The innovation represented by the start-ups selected is inspiring. At MSD, we are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with these leading innovators through i3, to help transform health care supply chains and improve access to medicines across Africa.”
i3 is coordinated by Salient Advisory, SCIDaR, and SouthBridge A&I and is operationalized by leading technology hubs across the continent: CCHub for West Africa, Startupbootcamp for Southern Africa, IMPACT Lab for North and French-speaking Africa, and Villgro Africa for East Africa. These hubs are responsible for the selection process and the follow-up of the startups throughout the program
Efosa Ojomo, Director, Global Prosperity at the Clayton Christensen Institute, and member of the i3 Steering Committee also commented:
“i3’s focus on African ingenuity is long overdue – supporting locally-led, market-creating innovations to scale will equip the continent to achieve health gains, generate prosperity and weather future crises.”
Prashant Yadav, Senior Fellow, Centre for Global Development, and INSEAD Professor who is Chair of the i3 Steering Committee also commented:
“The breadth of innovation represented by the cohort of companies selected is confirming that data-driven innovations can play an important role in rapidly improving the resilience of African health supply chains.”