The pan-African “Investing in Innovation” program will provide 30 HealthTech startups per year, operating in Africa, with access to: 1) a systematic grant of $50,000 2) market and government access events across the continent 3) a connection to a high-level global ecosystem in the healthcare community.
Almost a year ago, the Moroccan consulting firm Southbridge A&I and its Canadian partner Salient Advisory published a joint report on the financing challenges of healthcare delivery companies in Africa. They proposed 2 continental mechanisms to better direct international funding to African startups and to provide pooled working capital solutions in Africa. On June 22, 2022, Southbridge A&I, Salient Advisory and SCIDaR launched the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, implementing the first recommendation of this report.
This $7 million pan-African program is designed to support 30 companies per year over two years specializing in HealthTech and supply chain in Africa. I3 aims to identify early-stage or growth-stage innovators across the continent that can make a tangible impact on public health, whether in terms of availability, accessibility, quality or transparency of health supply chains. These companies, selected by four leading accelerators across the continent, will be eligible for a systematic grant of $50,000 as well as a market access program through events organized across the continent.
This ambitious program is sponsored by partners who will be heavily involved throughout the program. These include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA NEPAD), the World Health Organization AFRO (WHO AFRO), and two major players in the pharmaceutical industry: the Merck Group (MSD) and AmerisourceBergen. For the Southern African region, Startupbootcamp Afritech has been selected to coordinate the selection process and follow the companies throughout the program. For the other regions, the operational partners are IMPACT Lab for Northern Africa and Francopone Africa, Villgro Africa in Kenya for East Africa, and Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) in Nigeria for West Africa.
Applications for the first cohort of 30 companies are open now and will close on August 14. The program will launch on September 19, 2022. More info about the program on: http://www.innovationsinafrica.com
Applications for the first cohort of 30 companies are open now, at www.innovationsinafrica.com. Applications will close in mid-August.
Cheikh Oumar Seydi, Director, Africa, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, commented:
“African health innovators have shown increasing capacity to leverage technology to optimize supply chains and advance access to medicines. Such local innovations have the potential to change how supply chains and health systems function – and it is time to support them. We are pleased to be collaborating with strong global and continental partners to jointly strengthen African health systems, and accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.”
Dr Abdullahi Sheriff, AVP, Global Market Access, Sustainable Access Solutions at MSD also commented:
“There has been considerable progress in tech-driven innovation in health product distribution across Africa. Spurring and scaling disruptive innovation in health supply chain is key to expanding access to medicines for all. That’s why we, at MSD, are excited to collaborate on the i3 program.”
Dr Janet Byaruhanga, Senior Programme Officer – Health at AUDA-NEPAD also commented:
“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the capacity of African innovators to leverage tech-enabled solutions to transform medicine distribution. AUDA-NEPAD will continue to leverage its mandate and comparative advantage to foster partnerships that strengthen evidence, deploy innovation, enhance policy environments and facilitate critical investments, while creating valuable and high-impact jobs across the continent.”
Speaking on the launch of the report and i3 program, Director of Salient Advisory, Remi Adeseun said:
“There has been considerable progress over the past year as supply chain innovations work to enhance access to quality medicines. Our report provides investors, donors, and governments with actionable recommendations on engagement strategies to advance companies’ growth and impact. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and along with our esteemed partners, we are excited to be launching the Investing in Innovation program to connect promising companies to customers who can power their impact and scale.”
Aïda El Kohen, consultant at Southbridge A&I, commented:
«I3 is a very ambitious program with a unique value proposition thanks to systematic grants at the outset of the program and access to a hand-picked network of partners. Over the past 10 months, we have mobilized donors, major African institutions, and major players of the pharmaceutical industry to contribute to the program in the most optimal way. Moreover, we are also very happy to have been trusted by these partners to operationalize an innovative program for the social development of our continent. It is high time to invest in our generation to solve the problems that will impact all our lives and future generations! »
Start-ups working in health product distribution across Africa are invited to apply for the program at http://innovationsinafrica.com/
About Salient Advisory
Launched in 2020 with a globally distributed team in Kenya, Nigeria and Canada, Salient Advisory helps changemakers enact transformative approaches to health. The company conducts analysis and supports partnerships to use technology and innovations, adapt policy and financing, and elevate unheard voices to change global conversations and transform access to care. https://www.salientadvisory.com/
SCIDaR is an indigenous, Nigeria-based health systems consulting and implementation non-profit organization that works with governments, development organizations, and the private sector to optimize population health outcomes. It applies proven business and market-shaping techniques and utilizes its relationships and understanding of Africa’s public and private sector health system actors to ensure sustainable impact. https://scidar.org/
About Southbridge A&I
Southbridge A&I is an important player in the strategic, operational, and financial consulting of economic and social operators on the African continent. Intervening in the definition of sectoral policies, the transformation of public companies, and the support of private actors of various sizes, Southbridge A&I creates bridges between stakeholders to maximize the socioeconomic impact of its interventions. Alongside its consulting work, Southbridge A&I has developed an investment branch to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups with significant growth potential. https://south-bridge.com/
About Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
AmerisourceBergen is a global leader in the development and distribution of healthcare products. In addition to distribution and logistics, AmerisourceBergen helps pharma manufacturers bring their products to market, assisting with each step from pre-commercial to broad-market availability. https://www.amerisourcebergen.com/
About Merck Sharp & Dohme
MSD is a global leader in biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing, dedicated to using the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. https://www.msd.com/
AUDA-NEPAD is the Africa Union development agency, tasked with coordinating and executing priority regional and continental development projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realization of Agenda 2063 – Africa’s vision and action plan. https://www.nepad.org/
About the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, which is a coordinating authority on international health, and provides leadership on global health matters, shapes the health research and innovation agenda, sets health norms and standards, articulates evidence-based policy options, provides technical support to countries, and monitors and assesses health trends. Through its Regional Office for Africa and at Country level (including through its Country Offices), WHO aims to promote and assist Member States in strengthening their capacities to scale up health innovations in Africa. https://www.afro.who.int/