Sanofi invites Africa’s startups to present projects focused on improving healthcare

Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical manufacturer, has launched four challenges for African start-ups to find innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare and transform the health ecosystem throughout the continent. The select local start-ups will be pitched at VivaTech, an annual technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups, which will take place in Paris, France as from June 11 to 13, 2020.

These 4 challenges aim to identify, select and support the best start-ups in the health sector on the African continent. They illustrate Sanofi’s commitment to support the most daring and innovative entrepreneurs in the realization of their projects.

These challenges are part of Sanofi’s strategy to encourage innovation in the African continent, in order to create a health ecosystem that is at the service of the patient . An ecosystem that includes all stakeholders in the sector: public authorities, private companies, start-ups, etc.

The first challenge focuses on how to support patients with a digital heath book in order to access information and make decisions. Anyone should be able to possess their own personal health data record safely, so that they can easily recall their health history and have the right dialogue with doctors. The proposed solution should contain major health event data (vaccinations, lab results, disease history, prescriptions, and guidance & tips).

It should be easy to use, affordable, consume minimal mobile data, and easily integrate with existing systems while complying with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. ​

The second challenge is to provide solutions to help healthcare systems leapfrog from manual to smart logistics solutions at the point of care. In some countries in Africa, the flow of data around drugs and devices management at the point of care is not digitalized. The implementation of a digital solution would optimize the supply chain at the point of care, reinforce batch traceability – mandatory in the event of product recall and to fight against fake medicines and vaccines- and to simplify data management. The scalable and affordable solution should ensure appropriate drug delivery to patient and include features such as e-prescription delivery.

The third challenge focuses on how to improve financing and impact of innovative health solutions in Africa. Access to new therapeutic solutions remains a major challenge for a large part of population in Africa. The proposed solution should bear upon innovative financing options. Ideally, we are looking for start-ups already working with banks or insurance companies. The solution must be able to measure the impact. It should be easy to use, affordable, consume minimal mobile data, and easily integrate with existing systems while complying with relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

Finally, the last challenge looks for solutions on how to improve maternal and neonatal health in sub-Saharan Africa. While maternal and child mortality has been significantly reduced globally, it remains a major concern in sub-Saharan Africa with two thirds of worldwide maternal deaths. The Sanofi Espoir corporate Foundation, together with its local and global partners, aims at identifying innovative solutions to tackle this issue and save lives. The project would be part of our 2020 pilot endeavours in Senegal that help tackling major social determinants of maternal health and respond to critical needs of mothers-to-be. It should be a scalable, affordable solution, to be piloted first in Senegal.

Sanofi will select the start-ups after the closure of the on-line application platform. Start-ups will be evaluated according to 5 criteria: concrete evidence of positive results in at least one African country, project maturity, relevance of the solution, market potential and business model, skills, expertise and experience of the team and finally scientific evidence if applicable.

The selected start-ups will be invited to present their innovative solutions at Afric@tech, the VivaTech Lab dedicated to the African continent. The nominees will defend their projects in front of a jury consisting of Sanofi representatives and industry professionals and will be able to demonstrate their solutions to the public. Following VivaTech, Sanofi will evaluate with each start-up the potential for a partnership.

The call for submissions is free and open to all. To register and make a submission, applicants are requested to proceed to registration platform.

In 2018 and 2019, Sanofi received almost 200 start-up applications from which 20 were selected to join the Sanofi stand in the Afric@tech dedicated space at VivaTech. Currrently, discussions are on-going with over 15 start-ups with some successful initiatives rolled out.

For more than 50 years, Sanofi has been committed to use its expertise, knowledge and experience for the African populations and continuously seeks out the most innovative, adapted approaches to improve access to medicines and healthcare. Whether it is preventing disease or managing illness, Sanofi integrates the available technologies to make our innovations and services accessible to millions of people around Africa.

Created in 2010, the Sanofi Espoir Corporate Foundation aims to reduce inequalities in health in France and internationally. Its actions aim to improve the health of the most vulnerable populations, particularly children. These serve the Foundation’s vision of a world in which everyone has a chance to be born, grow and maintain their health. This ambition covers four strategic areas: maternal and neonatal health, pediatric cancers in low- and middle-income countries, access to healthcare for the most vulnerable populations in France and responding to humanitarian crises.


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