African startups invited to apply for AIA Accelerator in Hong Kong

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African startups have been invited to apply for the AIA Accelerator in Hong Kong, a joint venture between insurance firm AIA and startup accelerator Nest aimed to supporting innovative businesses in the healthcare arena.

The 12-week programme is the second iteration of the accelerator, which launched late last year and ended with a demo day in June. Seven of the eight startups that participated in the inaugural programme successfully secured funding.

Disrupt Africa reported last month Nest, which services early-stage, high growth businesses, had opened an office in Nairobi as it looks to run programmes and invest in startups in Africa. The company is also attempting to form a bridge between Africa and Asia, earlier this month inviting African startups to apply for its Infiniti Accelerator.

Two African startups –  Kenya’s SuperFluid and South Africa’s creditable – are already taking part in another Nest programme in Hong Kong, held in conjunction with DBS Bank, while it has also partnered co-working spaces Nairobi Garage and Cape Town Garage to offer startups a “soft landing” when visiting Hong Kong.

African e-health startups are now invited to apply for the AIA Accelerator. Applications close on October 9, after which eight startups will be selected to join the programme, which begins on November 16 and concludes with a public investor demo day in March next year.

Mark Tucker, group chief executive and president of AIA, said the decision to run a second programme was born out of the success of the first.

“In only 12 weeks, the startups progressed from ideas to prototypes, and from prototypes to products that are commercially viable. They have raised funds, signed partnerships and some have even taken steps to expand internationally,” he said.

“Good ideas need resources to become reality, and the AIA Accelerator programme has provided support to entrepreneurs who have demonstrated passion and expertise towards helping improve peoples’ lives, now and into the future.”

Steve Monaghan, head of AIA Edge, said the programme was looking for innovative solutions and providers focusing on new ways of improving and maintaining health, rewarding people for embracing a healthier lifestyle and helping people make informed choices.

“Health is an area where customer needs and commercial incentives align perfectly. People today are returning to the age-old wisdom of healthy, wealthy and wise,” he said.

“AIA Accelerator 2.0 will include startups that can use the power of data or emerging technology to improve the impact and relevance of customer engagement for companies in the field of healthcare.”

Simon Squibb, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nest, said his team was delighted with how well the first cohort of the AIA Accelerator had been received by investors and the wider startup community.

“Not only did AIA give these eight startups access to new clients and great minds from within the business, but they also helped connect them to partners, strategic investors, and potential acquirers,” Squibb said.

“Each of these businesses has emerged from the accelerator having received support that money cannot buy. With the healthcare and wellness space evolving so rapidly, we are delighted to announce the second phase of the AIA Accelerator so we can continue to support companies at the forefront of healthcare technology.”

The programme brings together domain expert providers as co-sponsors, including Amazon, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, InvestHK, KPMG, and Microsoft.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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