Investing in Innovation Africa (i3), a pan-African initiative for start-ups working to develop healthcare supply chains, is calling for innovators for the second cohort of the program. Applications for the second cohort are open until June 26. The selected start-ups will be announced on September 14.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and sponsored by AmerisourceBergen, Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD) Microsoft, and Chemonics, i3 supports the commercialization of 60 promising early-stage and growth-stage companies.
In a statement, i3 points out that the program connects these young African start-ups with donors, industry and government partners, in order to stimulate their impact and their growth. The innovators selected by the program are introduced to potential customers, receive a grant of $50,000 and benefit from targeted support to access market opportunities.
Thus, the same source underlined that the i3 program gives particular importance to young companies led by women as well as to start-ups operating in the French-speaking regions of the continent.
The first cohort, selected in September 2022, included 31 innovators who have improved access to health products in more than 24,000 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in 26 African countries.
To date, the i3 program has facilitated more than 200 meetings between cohort start-ups, sponsors and partners such as USAID, Benshi.ai Global Fund, i+Solutions, Chemonics, John Snow Inc, FHI360, the Madiro Foundation, as well as government officials from the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria, representatives from Ekiti and Lagos States, among others. These meetings notably enabled 17 innovators to conclude partnerships and launch pilot projects, specifies i3.
Yusuf Rasool, Director, Sustainable Access Solutions and Global Market Access, at MSD, quoted in the statement said that “ Expanding access to medicines requires a new way of thinking, which draws on the incredible talent we have across the continent. We can find African solutions to African challenges by bringing together governments, industry and donors to create the scaffolding needed for entrepreneurs to succeed. MSD is proud to partner with i3 to find, meet and partner with the next generation of African healthcare companies who are finding innovative ways to solve tomorrow’s healthcare challenges today. “.
For his part, Kieran Daly, Director, Global Health Agencies and Funds at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pointed out that “ i3 intends to launch a new way of doing business with industry and government backers to support local innovation, starting with healthcare supply chains. With our partners, we are building a network across the African continent to help structure commercialization support for start-ups, to accelerate their growth and impact on public health. We believe that local innovators, data-driven and closer to the issues of access to health products, are essential to build the resilient, agile and responsive supply chains that we need.“, he concluded.