Investing in Innovation Africa (i3), a pan-African initiative for start-ups building the future of healthcare supply chains, is calling for leading innovators to join its second cohort.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by AmerisourceBergen, Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), Microsoft and Chemonics, i3 is supporting the commercialization of 60 promising early- and growth-stage companies.
The $7 million initiative is a direct response to a healthtech startup report prompted a by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other global investors earlier in 2022. As a result, the initiative was named “Investing in Innovation.”
The report, titled ‘Innovations in Digitising Distribution of Health Products’, highlighted the innovations, progress, and potential of African health-tech start-ups in the supply chain.
The programme connects African-led supply chain innovators to donors, industry, and government partners, to power start-ups’ growth and impact. Selected start-ups receive targeted introductions to customers to support commercialization and impact, a $50,000 grant, and tailored investment readiness support. i3 is particularly focused on selecting women-led companies and those operating in Francophone regions.
The first cohort, selected in September 2022, featured 31 innovators enhancing access to health products across more than 24,000 hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies in 26 African countries.
To date, the i3 program has facilitated 200+ introductions between the cohort, the sponsors, and potential partners such as USAID, The Global Fund, Benshi.aI, i+Solutions, Chemonics, John Snow Inc., FHI360, Madiro Foundation, government representatives from Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health, representatives from Ekiti and Lagos state, and more.
i3 has featured cohort companies on CNBC Africa, at the World Cup, the Africa Health Agenda International Conference, the forthcoming Africa CEO forum, and more. More than 17 innovators have secured partnerships and pilot projects to date.
The initiative targets startups that are bringing affordable, high-quality health products closer to patients. The product must be through channels patients want to use to solve supply chain problems such as health product availability, accessibility of health products, health product quality, health product affordability, visibility of health product movement, and waste management in health supply chains.
Leading regional tech hubs - CcHUB (Co-Creation Hub), Startupbootcamp Afritech, Villgro Africa, and IMPACT Lab, spearhead cohort selection and investment readiness support.
Yusuf Rasool, Director, Sustainable Access Solutions, Global Market Access, at MSD commented: “Expanding access to medicines requires a new way of thinking that taps into the incredible talent we have across the continent. We can find African solutions for African challenges by bringing together government, industry, and donors to create the scaffolding for entrepreneurs to succeed. MSD is proud to partner with i3 to find, meet and partner with the next generation of African healthcare companies that are finding innovative ways to solve tomorrow’s healthcare challenges today.”
Kieran Daly, Director, Global Health Agencies and Funds, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also commented, “i3 intends to jump-start a new way of doing business across aid, industry, and government partners to support local innovation – starting with health care supply chains. With our partners, we’re building a network across the African continent to help structure commercialization support for start-ups, to accelerate their growth and public health impact. We believe local, data-driven innovators closest to the delivery challenges are critical to building the resilient, agile, and responsive supply chains we need.”
Applications are open for early and growth-stage health tech innovators until June 26th. Selected start-ups will be announced on September 14th.
i3 continues to be inspired by the progress and potential of African innovators in healthcare supply chains, and is coordinated by Salient Advisory, Southbridge A&I and Solina Center for Research and Development (SCIDaR).
Women-led companies and those operating in the Francophone region are encouraged to apply.