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WHO And Partners Launch A Fund To Assist 60 Businesses

AUDA-NEPAD, AmerisourceBergen, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, and Merck Sharp & Dohme have announced plans to launch a $7 million pan-African initiative with the goal of offering risk-tolerant grants to 60 promising early- and growth-stage companies as well as commercialization support to enable their impact at scale.

The project, dubbed Investing in Innovation (i3), is coordinated by SCIDaR, SouthBridge A&I, and healthcare consulting firm Salient Advisory. With the help of CCHub, Startupbootcamp, IMPACT Lab, and Villgro Africa, it is put into operation.

The development comes on the heels of the Salient Advisory report on market intelligence, which highlighted prospects of some African health tech start-ups in the supply chain.

According to the report, 67 per cent of innovators based in Nigeria operated in both the rural and urban areas. It was also noted that 18 per cent of innovators were led by either an all-female founding team or a female founder.

It further said that despite making up just 20 per cent of the Nigerian innovator cohort, B2B innovators had raised nearly half of the total investment disclosed. Also, in terms of funding raised in the last year alone, innovators with no links to high-income nations had raised just two per cent of the reported funding.


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Speaking on the launch of the report and i3 programme, Director of Salient Advisory, Remi Adeseun said, “There has been considerable progress over the past year as supply chain innovations work to enhance access to quality medicines. Our report provides investors, donors, and governments with actionable recommendations on engagement strategies to advance companies’ growth and impact. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and along with our esteemed partners, we are excited to be launching the Investing in Innovation program to connect promising companies to customers who can power their impact and scale.”

The Director, Africa, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cheikh Oumar, noted that African health innovators had shown increasing capacity to leverage technology to optimise supply chains and advance access to medicines.

Senior Programme Officer, Health at AUDA-NEPAD, Dr Janet Byaruhanga, said the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the capacity of African innovators to leverage tech-enabled solutions to transform medicine distribution.

“AUDA-NEPAD will continue to leverage its mandate and comparative advantage to foster partnerships that strengthen evidence, deploy innovation, enhance policy environments and facilitate critical investments, while creating valuable and high-impact jobs across the continent,” she added.


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