A consortium of global and continental organizations, with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have launched a pan-African initiative to support healthtech start-ups in Africa in their access to markets and commercialization efforts.
The foundation is committing a total of US$7 million in that direction.
This came after healthcare consulting firm Salient Advisory launched a market intelligence report highlighting promising African healthtech start-ups in supply chain.
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.”
Investor interest has also been strong; 36% of all-time funding reported by health care supply chain innovators profiled was raised in the last 12 months. However, exclusionary funding trends remain entrenched: only 2% of recent funding was raised by Black, women founders, a total of just $1.6 million in 2021.
Inspired by the progress and potential of African innovators in supply chain, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, alongside Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa, AUDA-NEPAD and AmerisourceBergen, are launching a $7 million pan-African initiative to provide 60 promising early and growth-stage companies with risk-tolerant grants alongside commercialization support to power their impact at scale. The program, called Investing in Innovation (i3), is coordinated by Salient Advisory, SCIDaR, and SouthBridge A&I and is operationalized with CCHub, Startupbootcamp, IMPACT Lab, and Villgro Africa.
Applications for the first cohort of 30 companies are open now, at www.innovationsinafrica.com. Applications will close in mid-August.
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.”