Healthcare innovations share $150k at IPA awards

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Ground-breaking healthcare solutions were named winners at the annual Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) awards in Botswana last week, sharing prize money totaling US$150,000.

Disrupt Africa reported in May the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) had announced the 10 nominees for the fifth IPA, which took place under the theme “Made in Africa” and sought innovative solutions to address malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Dr Valentin Agon of Benin was selected overall winner, with Imogen Wright of South Africa scooping second prize and Dr Eddy Agbo of Nigeria winning the Special Prize for Social impact.

AIF partnered with the Botswana’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) to host IPA 2016.

“IPA 2016 marks some historic achievements since its inception in 2011,” said Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, an AIF founding board member. “Besides a huge database of more than 6,000 innovators for increased share and exchange of information and a cash investment of US$1 million, we received endorsement from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in support of innovation-led strategies to boost national development.”

Dr Agon of Benin walked away with the US$100,000 Grand Prize for his innovation Api-Palu, an anti-malaria drug treatment that has hit the market in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). Made from natural plant extract, Api-Palu is significantly cheaper than anti-malarial drugs currently on the market, and has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria.

Wright of South Africa scooped the Second Prize of US$25,000 for Exatype, a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment.

The Social Impact Prize of US$25,000 was awarded to Dr Agbo of Nigeria for his Urine Test for Malaria (UMT), a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.

“All those involved in the advancement of the frontiers of innovation, science, and technology are winners, and on behalf of the Government of Botswana, we would like to congratulate all those who participated in IPA 2016. However, in this pool of achievers, there are those that stand head and shoulders above the rest and we applaud the winners of IPA 2016. We celebrate this fine achievement and trust that it will inspire innovators in Botswana and across the continent to do more to solve Africa’s challenges,” said Alan Boshwaen, chief executive officer (CEO) of BIH.

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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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