Kenya’s SophieBot, a sexual health chatbot & India’s Wellthy Therapeutics join Merck’s 4th Accelerator in Nairobi


Kenya’s SophieBot, a startup that has developed a chatbot that answers questions about sexual health using artificial intelligence has been accepted into Merck’s fourth intake in Nairobi, Kenya.

SophieBot will be working with other teams focusing on cooling systems, artificial intelligence for information provision about sexual health, and digital diabetes therapies.

SophieBot, which was part of the Nailab and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) iAccelerator last year addresses the lack of information on the delicate topic of sexual health and gives answers in real-time about any issues concerning sexual and reproductive health. The bot can be integrated into multiple platforms including Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Twitter and the Android mobile app.

Merck KGaA, a Germany science and technology firm is running the its 5th and 4th Merck Accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya respectively working with startups using artificial intelligence to achieve advances in healthcare.

Apart from SophieBot, other startups joining the Accelerator program in Nairobi include India’s Wellthy Therapeutics, working on diabetes-related issues. Wellthy Therapeutics has developed a digital therapy strategy for diabetes patients which can also be used by doctors administering treatment. Patients receive a personalized nutrition plan, as well as a health coach in order to lower their blood sugar level – all via an app and based on artificial intelligence. The other startup on the Nairobi Accelerator program is Coolfinity, which tackles the problem of keeping medicine cool in countries that are often face power outages. Coolfinity developed the technology “IceVolt” in order to ensure constant and uniform cooling.

Startups from the Accelerator in Darmstadt include Oculyze from Wildau, Germany, which has invented a hand-held microscope that enables scientists to access an easy image recognition service from anywhere in the world. The hand-held microscope consists of an optical module, a smartphone, and an application that is connected to the server hosting the image analysis software. Users can easily attach the optical module to their smartphone and see the picture through the app on the screen. After that, the app sends the picture to the server for analysis and returns the results within seconds.

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The second startup at Darmstadt is Living Brain, a startup from Heidelberg in Germany that digitises the rehabilitation process for patients with neurological issues. The team has built a mobile application, offering exercises that help patients to train their cognitive abilities and consequently overcome their problems step by step. Later on, the application will also include exercises for diverse cognitions: rehabilitation no longer has to take place at a clinic or a doctor’s office.

The third one is Labfolder from Berlin, Germany, which is offering a research data management tool for scientific and research laboratories. Using Labfolder’s technology, the documentation of laboratory experiments and collaboration between different scientists becomes much less complicated, as the tool collects, manages, analyzes, and shares data. Labfolder connects data, people, devices, and tools, which can be accessed via an easy-to-use platform on browsers and mobile devices.

The last one startup MedicSen is from Spain and improves the quality of life of people with diabetes by providing a personalized device which simulates the functions of the pancreas.  Revolutionizing diabetes treatment, the device will help patients to forget about their disease, minimize their concerns, and decrease the risk of associated complications. MedicSen’s product consists of an app with modules such as personalized activities, meal plans, and support with learning algorithms which can be used to predict glucose values. For MedicSen, diabetes is only the first stop on their journey towards revolutionary treatments;the team hopes to address other chronic diseases as well.

According to Michael Gamber, Head of the Innovation Center in Darmstadt, “Due to the number of high-quality applications from over 60 countries, selecting startups for our fifth round in Darmstadt and our fourth intake in Nairobi was not easy. In comparison to the first Accelerator intake back in 2015, we can see that digitalization now plays an even greater role across the healthcare and life science sectors, guaranteeing even faster and easier ways for patients to manage their diseases. We can also see that digitalization is constantly improving daily work for researchers.”