The Investing in Innovation (i3) program, a pan-African support initiative for African health supply chain start-ups has revealed its first cohort of 30 healthtech companies that will benefit from its $7 million fund.
Recall that a healthtech startup report prompted a $7 million initiative by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other global investors earlier this year. The initiative was named “Investing in Innovation.”
The Pan-African program was expected to provide grants and commercialisation support to 60 healthtech companies over two years and had started receiving applications in June. Investing in Innovation(i3) 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 Organisation 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.”
Speaking on the funding support Dr Abdullahi Sheriff, Associate Vice President of Global Market Access at MSD noted that "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."
Meet the selected 30 African health startups
Here are the 30 healthtech startups that will benefit from Investing in innovation (i3)’s $7 million fund:
Founded in 2018, Chekkit's product authentication technology solutions protect shoppers from buying fake products and connects manufacturers directly to their consumers. The healthtech startup is incorporated in Nigeria and the USA.
Disrupt Pharma (Medsaf) is an end-to-end pharmaceutical technology platform increasing access, affordability and quality of medications in Africa. Medsaf helps hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres to purchase, manage, and track their crucial medication needs with technology. The startup operates in Nigeria, Portugal and Ghana.
DrugStoc is a procurement platform that enables healthcare providers to source all the medications, consumables, and small medical devices needed for their practice. DrugStoc Ehub was founded in 2016 and operates in Lagos.
Erith Health Services is a B-2-B/B-2-C products and services provider that seeks to bring optimal care to patients through the improvement of the safety practices employed by health workers in their line of work. The startup was founded in 2016 and operates in Ghana.
Gricd is an IoT company that provides real-time monitoring for temperature-sensitive products. Gricd specialises in the field of temperature-controlled products, temperature monitoring solutions, and cold chain services to keep them safe and potent. Gricd operates from Lagos
LifeBank enables hospitals to improve the quality of healthcare they offer to patients by ensuring 24/7 availability of blood, oxygen, and medical consumables. LifeBank started in 2016 and operates in Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Lifestores Healthcare provides patients and pharmacies with the services and knowledge needed to take control of their health & wellness using technology. Lifestores healthcare was launched in 2017 and operates in Lagos.
OneHealth is an online Pharmacy and healthcare platform that leverages technology to get the right medicines to the right hand at the right time. The health startup has a network of over 1000+ Pharmacies across all 36 states in Nigeria. The startup was founded in 2019.
Infiuss health offers a unified end-to-end platform for running fully remote and hybrid clinical trials in Africa to enable access to clinical research and studies on a global scale. The startup operates in Nigeria and was founded in 2017.
10. Damu Sasa
Damu-Sasa is an innovative end-to-end blood services information management system that supports blood sourcing, inventory management, transfusion management and even haemovigilance. The startup was launched in 2017 and operates in Kenya.
The Pathology Network is an artificial intelligence-powered digital platform linking small laboratories to specialised facilities for seamless test referrals and ensuring timely diagnosis. The healthtech startup is Kenyan based and was founded in 2017.
12. Negus Med
Negus Med Limited supplies medical facilities, medical device research and development consultancy services with an I.T driven freight and logistics systems. The medical device distributorship and manufacturing company is headquartered in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Signalytic provides health data navigation where it's needed. The startup’s technology is built to digitise and connect rural and remote health facilities across the Global South and the North. Signalytic operates in Canada and Uganda.
Viebeg provides medical supplies and equipment on-demand to health care providers through its data-driven procurement platform which ensures that healthcare providers always have sufficient medical products in stock to properly treat their patients. Viebeg Technologies was founded in 2018 and has a presence in Rwanda, Burundi, The Republic of Congo and Kenya.
15. Zuri Health
Zuri Health is a virtual hospital helping patients across sub-Saharan Africa to access affordable healthcare services. The startup digitally connects patients to healthcare service providers via a mobile app, website, Whatsapp bot and SMS service. Zuri health operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana.
Xetova is an interactive platform designed to enhance performance in Africa’s procurement marketplace. Founded in 2019, Xetova is a Kenyan tech startup that connects buyers, suppliers, and investors in the procurement ecosystem.
clinicPesa is a digital platform for managing medical expense savings, micro-loans and payments. Founded in 2017, clinicPesa increases low- and middle-income Ugandans’ access to medical care by offering tailored, flexible healthcare financing.
18. Cure Bionics
Cure Bionics is a Tunisian-based startup creating 3D-printed and customizable bionics prosthetic arms that enhance the human body with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics for below-elbow amputee adults and children aged 8 and above with the aim to make them more accessible and cool-to-wear.
Deepecho is a healthtech company using advanced explainable AI on ultrasound dynamic imagery to prevent birth defects, and address preterm birth, low birth weight, and their outcomes. The startup is based in Morocco.
Medevice focuses on investing in Medtech and e-health innovation projects. Its team has extensive experience in the fields of medical technology and e-health. The startup is based in Morocco.
Meditect is a social enterprise whose mission is to digitise actors of the medicine supply chain. The French speaking startup operates in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Cameroon and targets all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Sorbus offers a variety of management software solutions for online orders, patient records, and billing for the healthcare & pharmacy sectors. The startup is based in Morocco.
23. Dr Sett
Dr Sett is a health tech startup based in Francophone Africa, it specialises in managing biomedical waste through the supply of regulation-compliant packaging for waste collection as well as the on-site collection of waste and disposal.
Valorigo is a Congolese startup developing a brand made in Africa, natural and affordable sanitary pads, obtained by transforming locally grown bamboo fibres. The startup was incorporated in 2020.
25. Azanza Health
Azanza Health is a portfolio of digital platform businesses focused on leveraging Telehealth, artificial intelligence, and a network of clinical partners to transform health in Africa. Azanza Health is based in Zimbabwe
26. Appy Saude
Appy Saúde is a mobile app and web portal that strives to provide useful health information to users. It also allows you to order, pay and receive pharmaceutical products from the main pharmacies in Angola. Appy Saude was founded in 2017 and based in Angola.
27. Aviro Health
Aviro Health is a South African digital health consultancy specialising in designing and building digital healthcare solutions.
South African startup Contro, is an online prescription and delivery service for sexual health and confidence products such as birth control, erectile dysfunction treatment and personal wellness. The startup was founded in 2021.
VaxiGlobal works with Governments and NGOs to collect vaccination metrics data during NGO-sponsored mass immunisation campaigns to verify campaign effectiveness, track progress towards eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), and identify process errors/inefficiencies contributing to vaccine wastage. VaxiGlobal is based in Zimbabwe and was founded in 2019.
Zinacare conducts at-home health tests that are convenient, comfortable, private and as accurate as any test done in a clinic, hospital or doctor's room. The startup was founded in 2020 and operates in South Africa.
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