Sagitarix was Kenya’s only finalist at 2018 Sanofi VivaTech challenge. Which firm(s) will make it this year?

Just like in the previous edition of the contest, the Sanofi VivaTech Challenge is currently accepting applications from African startups for a chance to win a slot to pitch at the VivaTech 2019 forum on May 15 – 18, 2019 in Paris, France. The deadline for entries is Friday, February 15, 2019.

And this is not all, for there’s more. Apart from the opportunity to pitch at VivaTech, winning startups also benefit from financial support and from a coaching and mentoring programme by Sanofi, in order to prepare an eventual collaboration with one of the company’s departments in Africa.

(TOP: iSikcure, the healthcare platform developed by Sagiratix, Kenya’s only finalist to 2018 Sanofi Vivatech challenge).

In 2018, the contest – organized as part of Sanofi’s Afric@Tech initiative – had the pharmaceutical firm identify and set three challenges aimed at revolutionising healthcare practices in Africa. These were:

  • solutions that diagnose non-communicable diseases.
  • telemedicine solutions with mobile payment integration.
  • multi-device and multi-channel solutions that could both educate and inform health professionals on non-communicable diseases.

After the applications phase, 10 finalists were then selected from over 180 entries submitted by startups representing various countries. The 10 were selected based on five key considerations, that is: a concrete proof of positive results in at least one African country; maturity of the project; relevance of the solution; potential of the market and of the business model, skills, expertise and experience of the team; and fifth, the scientific feasiblility.

The 10 startups making it to the final shortlist in 2018 were:

  1. Appenberg Digital Publishing (South Africa): Launched in 2014, Appenberg aims to upscale education, foster and provide remote access to healthcare resources through digital technology. The startup’s primary focus is to support the establishment of digital resources which are region-specific, as well as provide a centre of excellence for healthcare and digital education training.
  2. Vula Mobile (South Africa): A medical referral startup founded in 2014 which had a target to help assist a minimum of 100,000 patients last year.
  3. Bisa (Ghana): The mobile app enables users to directly interact with medical practitioners without being physically present at the hospital.
  4. Gifted Mom (Cameroon): The medtech platform tackles infant and maternal mortality by disseminating information to users via SMS or a smartphone app.
  5. Informed Healthcare (Egypt): Digital medical service provider founded by entrepreneur and medical doctor Amir Kalila in 2014.
  6. KEA Medicals (Benin): Founded in 2017, KEA Medicals has developed a platform which uses a QR-code-embedded medical identification card to trace users’ medical history.
  7. MedTrucks (Morocco): Also founded last year, it addresses the issue of lack of medical care in remote areas through its mobile hospitals.
  8. Otrac (Nigeria): An e-learning platform for health workers founded in 2016.
  9. Sagitarix (Kenya): Founded in 2016, the healthtech startup has developed a mobile health information exchange called iSikCure which enables users to access quality medicines at the most affordable rates by integrating with digital prescriptions from providers.
  10. Yapili (Pan Africa): A free peer-to-peer medical advice platform that matches users to licensed doctors.

Looking at the list of the finalists, one sees that South Africa took most of the positions (with 2 slots) while the countries – Kenya, Cameroun, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Benin and Egypt – had a single finalist each.

And this year, Sanofi has categorized the challenge into three key areas:

  1. How to enhance awareness, diagnosis and disease management of patients suffering from Diabetes
  2. How to improve the access to medicines in remote areas from supply chain management to alternative payment solutions
  3. How to support decision-makers in getting a better usage of available health data?

That’s why before the application deadline closes in less than two-week’s time, our hope is that more innovators from Kenya and Africa working on healthcare solutions and systems are keen on submitting their entries.

And to healthcare startups from Kenya, remember we only had one finalist last year (Sagitarix), meaning we need more of you to submit your entries this year and stand a chance to emerge winner(s) while making the country proud. Remember Sanofi has set aside about US$ 20 million this year to be dedicated to its collaboration and projects with healthcare startups in Africa.

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