• Startups
  • eHealth SME start-ups aren’t booming yet

    As a relatively new and constantly changing industry, eHealth can expect the role of Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) to provide a significant contribution. Africa’s eHealth success could depend on them. An EU survey of over 300 European eHealth SMEs by eHealth Hub produced some surprises that highlight issues for Africa’s eHealth.

    About 39% of eHealth SMEs are in pre-revenue stages. Some 43% have revenues below €100,000. Taken together, that’s 82% in early development stages.

    These point to an EU market that’s still maturing. While this may be the state of the SMEs, their solutions may be further ahead. Pascal Lardier, executive director at Health 2.0 says demonstration apps for Health 2.0 Europe have shown a consistent maturity over several years. His conclusion’s that the supply side is maturing faster than demand by consumers and healthcare.

    He’s also surprised that most SMEs, almost an even split for a total of about two thirds, work on B2B or B2B2C solutions:

    The EU differs from the US where the bulk of investment’s for B2C solutions. In the EU, it’s about 8%. It may be that the EU’s investment flow may be greater if B2C initiatives were stronger, with Europeans spending more as health consumers?

    83% of SMEs surveyed stated they were currently looking for funding. Their investors’ most important criterion remains commercial traction. About 37% of these start-ups also said they’d already raised a round of external capital, with 38% of that subset having raised over €1 million. Indicating that raising investment money without revenues is viable.

    Finding the right investors needs a combination of the right idea with the right plan to turn it into a successful business, Pascal Lardier’s advice’s to adopt an old “Ask for money and you'll get advice, ask for advice and you'll get money." Will this work for Africa’s eHealth SMEs?

  • Merck picks a Ghanaian start-up for its accelerator

    It’s good to see African start-ups recognised by big, global business. Merck, a global healthcare and pharmaceutical firm, has chosen Peach Health Technologies (PHT), a Ghanaian start-up and two from the US to be part its third eHealth accelerator event in Nairobi, Kenya. PHT’s developed a cloud-based EHR for hospitals in developing countries.

    An article in Disrupt Africa says Merck launched its eHealth accelerator programme in Nairobi alongside its successful event in Germany. The aim’s to foster the growth of Africa’s high potential, early stage eHealth start-ups. The Merck Accelerator Africa programme runs for three months. Selected eHealth start-ups are provided with finance with no equity taken in return, coaching, mentoring and access to Merck’s global networks.

    In the first two rounds of the programme, Merck offered start-ups US$15,000. For this stage, it’s increased to US$30,000.

    The US companies are RxAll and Secure Data Kit (SDK). RxAll’s developed an AI platform for pharmacies to authenticate medicines in Africa. SDK has a programme for data management of global health supply chains.

    All three can benefit Africa’s health systems. It’ll be good to see their solutions deployed soon.

  • There are plenty of eHealth startups to watch out for in 2017

    Technology and startups keep growing across Africa as more people search for unique solutions to everyday problems. Disrupt Africa monitors technology startups on the continent and recently published a report identifying South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya as the top three destinations for technology investors in 2016, both in terms of numbers of deals and total funding.

    A Disrupt Africa list now sets out the top technology start-ups for 2017, ITNEWS Africa  selected ten start-ups it predicts will influence the market this year. Of the ten innovations, three are in healthcare. They are:

    Flare, a Kenyan start-up. Its app aggregates available ambulances onto a single system and allows patients or hospitals to request emergency help using a smartphone. Flare underwent testing with ambulances throughout 2016 ahead of the release of an Uber-style consumer-facing app.

    Jumaii. a Tanzanian company. Its app provides a mobile micro-health insurance product for low income and informal sectors. It’s built a mobile policy management platform that performs all the administrative activities of an insurer and allows users to access cheap insurance. Jamii won the Tanzania Seedstar World competition and is set to launch in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa in 2017.

    Dr CADx, a Zimbabwean start-up founded in 2016. It’s developing a computer-aided diagnostic system to help doctors diagnose medical images more accurately and provide pervasive radiology diagnostics in regions that don’t have radiologists. The solution’s designed to be used by medical professionals on existing computers and tablets. Dr CADx is able to diagnose most diseases but the start-up’s initial focus is on lung diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and lung cancer, as well as head injuries and breast cancer. Dr CADx was named winner of the Zimbabwean edition of Seedstars World.

    All the best to the startups. We’re looking forward to reporting on your successes on eHNA soon.

  • Israeli start-ups are innovating for Africa

    Israel recently celebrated its mHealth week. Leaders and experts put their heads together to help solve global mHealth challenges. The week culminated on 18 February with the flagship event, the mHealth Israel conference.

    In a panel called Meet the new boss: Market leaders and the empowered healthcare consumer, Jeremy Sohn, Vice President and Head of Digital Business Development and Licensing at Novartis said, “Israel is a startup capital. I come here to be inspired really; Israel is constantly pushing the limits of innovation.” Sohn is not alone. Many eHealth and mHealth companies have R&D centres in Israel, and others flew in top level executives for the event.

    In line with this innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, the conference hosted an mHealth start-up contest, featuring the following finalists:

    • Biopmedical: Innovative device for screening cervical and other epithelial cancers.
    • Taliaz diagnostics: Personal tailoring of psychotropic medications based on an individual’s genetic profile
    • io: Using virtual reality for stroke patient rehabilitation
    • Intensix: Applying machine learning to big data to predict when critical care patients will deteriorate
    • 6 over 6: Using a smartphone to accurately diagnose vision problems
    • Datos Health: Data management solution for patient-generated data
    • MedAware: Using machine learning on big medical data to more accurately identify prescription errors in real-time, while mitigating ‘alert fatigue’

    Despite very tough competition, six claimed a first prize, and will receive an all expenses paid business development trip to Houston, Texas. There, they’ll exhibit at the Health Tech conference in Houston, meet C-level executives at the Texas Medical Center and the Houston Methodist Hospital, and be entered as finalists in two start-up contests: the Medica App Competition and the MedCity News INVEST .

    Another key feature of the conference was the 1x1 meetings session, organized by the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate (ISERD) and the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). This is in line with the conference’s objective of strengthening collaborations between Israel and other eHealth markets and users. Attendees from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America were in attendance, aiming to connect investors, entrepreneurs, and suppliers and users to forge meaningful cross-border partnerships.

    Private investors, venture capitalists, business angels, incubators, and accelerators constituted a major portion of the attendees, all in search of the next Israeli start-up to revolutionize the mHealth scene. Israel has a very strong track record of producing successful start-ups, boasting the highest per capita venture capitalist investment in the world. Some of the investors looking to bring these innovations to market see Africa and Asia as the most relevant markets. It will be important for them to ensure that they’re engaging African stakeholders throughout the development process, rather than simply bringing a finished product to African markets. Keep your eyes out for some of these and other Israeli mHealth services as they reach African users!

  • MTN and mLabs support young mHealth entrepreneurs

    Thirty young developers from Khayelitsha and Gugulethu townships in South Africa are competing in the MTN SA Foundation Community App Challenge in partnership with mLab. To win they have to produce the best apps in the education and health categories, says an article in IT-Online.

    The challenge aims to empower young developers who want to start their own businesses and make a difference in their communities. The overall winners will qualify to enter the 2016 MTN Business App of the Year Awards as well as financial support towards advertisement of the winning app.

    “We are very excited to be partnering with mLab for the MTN SA Foundation Community App Challenge. Such initiatives support our strategic intent of creating sustainable value for our stakeholders as well as developing a force of entrepreneurs who have the right skills set to grow their business, contribute to the growth of the economy and create much-needed jobs,” says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, GM of the MTN SA Foundation.

    The previous winners included Voonja App, a community announcement solution, New Start App that deals with male circumcision issues and Pink Drive, an app that deals with breast and prostate cancer. Each of these apps were awarded R30 000 worth of advertising and were incubated and mentored by mLab for a year. 

    An expert panel of judges is currently adjudicating the prototypes of the 30 talented graduate app developers. eHNA wishes all the best to the participants.

  • VoLo wins Seedstars World event in Senegal

    eHealth startup VoLo has been named the winner of the Senegalese round of the Seedstars World early-stage startups competition, and will now go on to represent the country at the global final says an article in Startup 365. Ten startups have been named that will pitch at the final African event of the year in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday, November 27.

    The event will take place at the Microsoft Innovation Centre, located within the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), with the startups to pitch to a panel of judges. A winner will be selected to represent their country at the final event in Geneva, Switzerland in February next year. 

    VoLo Africa is a privately owned African company that seeks to improve financial inclusion and increase access to health care through the establishment of VoLo’s Trust Information Platform (V-TIP). VoLo’s unique systems and processes bind biographical, biometric, and sector relevant data into a multi-platform and scalable database that analyzes information thereby providing transparent risk assessments to their clients. VoLo believes the key to broader health care coverage is the private sector and therefore V-TIP has been designed to meet the needs of health care providers and health insurance providers.

  • Tech Lab Africa's supporting eHealth startups

    Barclays Africa has chosen ten startups from the eHealth and financial and technical sectors to take part in its 13-week Tech Lab accelerator programme. It aims to provide startups with access to business mentors, industry leaders, influencers and experts. An article in Disrupt Africa says Tech Lab Africa, based in Cape Town, South Africa, has programme that’s already started, featuring one-on-one mentoring, workshops, and weekly company pitches. 

    The programme will culminate in a demo day on 10 December, attended by Barclays executives, Private Wealth clients, external investors, potential corporate customers and media. The four eHealth startups chosen are: 

    • 30DayHealth, a patient engagement solutions company
    • Consent, a universal core identity registry and mobile platform
    • Health Solutions Africa, an integrated health solutions company
    • an online healthcare booking platform.

    Barclays Africa said the world of digital health’s being disrupted by new technologies, responsive companies and innovative products and services, with untraditional competitors penetrating the market and long-held competitive boundaries disappearing. “In order to compete, Barclays Africa needs to connect, shape and scale with these new industry players. We are looking for big, fresh ideas that promise to shake things up,” said Ashley Veasey, chief information officer (CIO) at Barclays Africa. They believe investing in emerging eHealth solutions will ensure they stay ahead of the curve and competitive in an ever-changing healthcare market.

    Dealing successfully with these is a constant challenge for Africa’s health systems. Stepping up the adoption pace is another.

  • GE and StartUp Academy for more digital health entrepreneurs

    GE Ventures and StartUp Health are expanding their startup programme. It aids early-stage healthcare and medical technology companies that need initial funding and mentorship on their roads to maturity. An article in Med Device Online says the entrepreneurship programme will admit a new bunch of startups working in virtual health platforms and the next generation of payment solutions.

    Over the next year, StartUp Health Academy will accept at least ten startups into the programme for three years each, says a press release. Each startup will receive $50,000 initial funding and business coaching support from GE Ventures and StartUp Health mentors and executives. 

    After the programme’ss success with their initial participants, who have reached amazing milestones, including two follow-on investments from GE Ventures and one acquisition by a major healthcare company, the programme’s optimistic about the future. “We look forward to extending the program to a new group of entrepreneurs, offering them StartUp Health’s powerful platform to gain traction, and GE’s global network to help them scale,” said Ruchita Sinha, Director of Healthcare, GE Ventures.

    Programme leaders believe the two new focus areas will help them stay ahead of the curve. GE Ventures sees a need for new payment solutions because of the shift to value-based care and reimbursement. “There’s a huge transition to value-based care,” Sinha said in an interview with Fortune. “It’s coming fast and furious, and we want to be right in the center of it. Our focus for these startups is defined by this transition.” 

    About 20% of Medicare payments used a value-based model in 2014, and this is projected to increase to 50% by 2018. Startups that are ahead of the curve will reap the opportunities in the transformed payment ecosystem.  

    The academy’s other focus area, virtual health solutions, includes sub-areas such as virtual visits, store and forward technology, communication between physicians, communication between patients and doctors, second opinion services, specialist referral services, and remote monitoring.

    Applications for the startup program are open until 2 November 2015. Initial companies will be publically announced in January 2016 with additional calls for innovations around new themes throughout 2016. eHNA’s looking forward to several applications from Africa.

  • There's help for eHealth startups

    Africa’s rich in start-ups. eHNA has numerous posts about mHealth start-ups, and quite a few on larger-scale eHealth initiatives. The start-up phase is tough. People in Silicon Valley know that. They’re also good at sustaining business long after start-up. Now, there’s an online guide from the Valley to help.

    Entrepreneurship’s from Silicon Valley Counsel. It’s founder, Peter Szymanski’s set it up as a series of tweets. Its contents have hyperlinks to more punchy information that’s easy to understand. The themes are:

    Start-up Ideas

    • Elevator Pitch
    • Counter Intuition
    • Market Intelligence
    • Mission is the North Star
    • Ideas Checklist.

    Founders

    • Role and Responsibilities
    • Passion Requirement
    • The First Team
    • Building Culture
    • Common Mistakes.

    Product

    • Design
    • Distribution
    • Market Fit
    • Minimum Viable Product
    • Pivot.

    Users

    • Launch
    • First Users
    • Monopoly
    • Feedback

    Fund Raising

    • Process
    • Reasons
    • Rejections
    • Updates.

    Growth Scaling

    • Network Effects
    • Metrics
    • Leadership
    • Scaling
    • Competition.

    The content is a combination of good advice and myth busters. Both can save start-ups a lot of time in wasted ideas and discussions. Examples are:

    Angel Investors:

    • Strive for 1000s of initial customers with 25-35% coming back daily or at least weekly
    • Most great ideas for the next two decades are already known in labs, failed start-ups and prototypes
    • When timing’s right, it almost always feels too late. If terrified you missed window = great sign
    • It’s often better to be last to market, so hit timing right and take down the entire market vs the first
    • That will never happen is usually misguided and wrong. Much bigger risk is too early or too late.

    Avoiding Failure:

    • Without passion, you are more likely to give up when going gets tough which is most of the time
    • Successful companies solve a unique problem. Unsuccessful companies don't escape competition
    • If you build only software you absolutely need, you won't get more software than you'll use
    • The 1st idea is to get what's wrong. To deny, panic, & regret. The 2nd idea is the important one
    • If successful founders are superhuman in any way, it is in determination with perseverance.

    This is good for shattering illusions created by excessive self-belief. “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

    Drawn from the Valley’s experiences, these can help Africa’s eHealth start-ups to crack on, and up.

  • Africa's first healthcare accelerator's in Kenya

    German companies Ampion and Merck, are launching Africa’s fist healthcare accelerator in Nairobi, Kenya. An article in Business and Tech says it’ll take in startups and entrepreneurs venturing into eHealth solutions that have the potential for a large scale impact on society. The accelerator’s launch is a follow-up model for nurturing start-ups of its Ampion Venture Bus initiative and its fellowship programme reported in eHNA.

    Ampion is suited to mentor eHealth startups. It’s been nurturing start-ups around the world since 2011. “We have been supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs for the last four years having mentored some in Kenya eight months ago,” Ampion Co-founder Ifeanyi Oteh said.

    Ampion will invest in the two or three most viable business with a total of between US$20,000 and US$50,000. This is a great opportunity for eHealth startups in the EAC to further develop their innovations. Other African countries can benefit too.