African startups have been named winners of the Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 run by healthcare firm Johnson & Johnson, sharing US$300,000 and gaining access to a mentorship network.
Close to 900 submissions were received from 39 countries for the challenge, with the winners announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, last week.
The six award-winning companies and programmes offer bold and entrepreneurial approaches to addressing key health care priorities in African communities, including blood delivery, burnout of healthcare professionals, hearing loss, jaundice, malaria and access to ultrasound.
Nigeria’s LifeBank is a digital platform that delivers blood in less than 45 minutes in a cold chain consistent with the safety of WHO blood transfusions, while Rwanda’s The Hope Initiative seeks to prevent burnout among health professionals.
Botswana’s Dreet is a mobile app that diagnoses hearing loss, Nigeria’s Crib A’glow is a solar phototherapy crib for the treatment of jaundice, Uganda’s Uganics develops biologic soap to tackle the spread of malaria, and Uganda’s M-Scan performs ultrasounds using a portable probe and a smartphone.
A total of US$300,000 will be awarded to the winning teams, with the creation of a mentoring network and links supporting the expansion and sustainability of businesses and programmes.
“The ecosystem of innovation in Africa is booming and the ideas and energy of its entrepreneurs and innovators have the potential to create transformational change for the people of the continent and the world,” said Paul Stoffels, managing director, scientific director and vice president of the Johnson & Johnson Executive Committee.
“The six winners of the Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 address major health care challenges with innovative technology and approaches. We look forward to working with them and investing in them as they work to create sustainable businesses and programmes that deliver strong benefits to patients, families, healthcare professionals and communities in healthcare markets. Africa and beyond.”