MTN has announced its plan to work with four finalists of Ventures Platform's COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, alongside the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC).

Since Nigeria recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus, alias COVID-19, on February 27, the number of confirmed cases and deaths have continued to increase. As of April 23, 981 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 31 deaths recorded.

Although health workers, led by the NCDC, are making gallant efforts in the fight against COVID-19, Nigerians have expressed their concerns about the low testing capacity, contact tracing, and orientation of people living in rural areas.

As of April 14, 2020, Nigeria has 12 functional testing facilities in eight states. Lagos can conduct a minimum of 1,500 tests per day, while the other seven states, including Abuja, have a minimum capacity of 1,000 tests per day, according to the NCDC.

Hence Ventures Platform, in partnership with other stakeholders, organised the #COVID19InnovationChallenge to identify tech-enabled solutions addressing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The innovation challenge culminated in the online Demo Day that was held on April 2, 2020.

While each of the seven startups that pitched at the Demo Day received $3,000 (₦1.1 million) equity-free grant and support, the NCDC and LASRIC, which are partner-agencies for #COVID19InnovationChallenege, said the solutions they'd adopt and support would be announced later.

Related Article: Ventures Platform hosts online Demo Day for COVID19 Innovation Challenge, seven startups to receive $21,000

"I have attended a lot of Demo Days in my time, but never a virtual one", Kola Aina, founder of Ventures Platform, said. "The energy from the seven teams who participated on the April 2, 2020 was incredible; their focus and energy on building products that will hopefully go on to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic were remarkable. The judges, mentors, and the entire VP team were blown away by the innovation on display".

In a statement made available to benjamindada.com on Thursday, the NCDC announced the three startups it would be working with.

  1. GLOEPID: Prunedge bot and app technology have been integrated into NCDC systems.
  2. COVID Triage: Wellvis Health interface has been integrated into NCDC systems.
  3. Infodemics: Infodemics is working with NCDC’s team to stop the spread of fake news about the novel coronavirus.

In the same vein, MTN announced its plan to support three of the seven finalists of Ventures Platform's #COVID19InnovationChallenge. MTN says it will help the startups to scale their solutions to have a significant impact in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the statement, MTN is organising a pitch-a-thon on April 24 to enable experts in relevant fields to volunteer to assist the three startups in scaling their solutions across the country, and beyond.

These are the startups MTN will be providing support:

  1. COVID Triage: Wellvis Health will be given USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) set up to push out their triage tool to the underserved. Users without internet-enabled phones or living in remote areas without internet access will be able to assess their exposure and monitor or report their symptoms to medical personnel.
  2. GLOEPID: Prunedge will be given a zero rate on their app and site to benefit as many as possible.
  3. iQube Labs: MyServiceAgent will be provided with a toll-free line and SIP trunking services that can handle many call routings.

"We would like to especially acknowledge our partners, MTN who joined VP,  LASRIC, and NCDC, in developing solutions to tackle COVID-19 in Africa, as well as all those who have supported our start-ups both in terms of writing cheques and through ongoing strategic support. As we say in Africa, it takes a village — I am so grateful to our village for making this happen", Kola Aina concluded.

The partners of Ventures Platform's COVID-19 Innovation Challenge include Loftyinc Allied Partners Ltd, Silverchip Fox Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, AGS Tribe, ACIOE, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, Venture Garden Group, NESG, and Sterling Bank.