Johnson & Johnson has given $300,00 into the six winners of the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 at the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa.
The six startups include Nigeria’s LifeBank and Crib A Glow, Uganda’s MSCAN and Uganics, Rwanda’s Hope Initiative and Botswana’s DREET.
Apart from the $50,000 per team, the six will receive extensive mentoring and connection network building, to support the expansion and sustainability of the companies and programs.
“The innovation ecosystem in Africa is thriving, and the ideas and energy of its entrepreneurs and innovators have the potential to create transformational change for people across the continent and around the world,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, Johnson & Johnson.
The Challenge received nearly 900 submissions from 39 countries, and the winning businesses and programs represent outstanding ingenuity and perseverance, as well as a pathway for scaling operations for long-term sustainability.
LIFEBANK (Nigeria) – The lack of an established blood supply network in Nigeria can make access to appropriate blood transfusion very difficult and is contributing to loss of life. LifeBank is working to change this dynamic.
The company receives requests through a digital platform with the intent of delivering the necessary blood to hospitals in less than 45 minutes in a WHO Blood Transfusion Safety compliant cold chain.
HEALTHCARE WORKER BURNOUT
THE HOPE INITIATIVE (Rwanda) – More than 50 percent of emergency care workers are at high risk for burnout given the nature of their jobs.
The Hope Initiative builds upon research that has demonstrated the positive influence of intrinsic hope on health outcomes of healthcare workers and their patients. Using a validated metric, The Hope Initiative intends to measure hope among nurses and mothers to understand how hope intersects with healthcare worker burnout and perinatal health outcomes.
The Initiative intends to identify interventions that positively influence hope and build both a sustainable team of healthcare workers and sustainable improvements in patient outcomes.
DREET (Botswana) – More than 460 million people around the world arehearing-impairediii, and two-thirds of them live in developing countriesiv. Hearing loss can lead to unnecessary poverty and hardship in affected families and communities. DREET is a mobile phone app that allows a child in rural Africa to have their hearing tested in real time by a professional who may live thousands of miles away. Their phone-based hearing device tests the hearing in children as young as three years old, allowing parents to prepare and understand impacts of raising a hearing-impaired child, or counteracting potential developmental issues such as speech impediments due to hearing impairment.
CRIB A’GLOW (Nigeria) – An estimated six million babies do not receivetreatment for neonatal jaundice because they lack access to effective phototherapy devicesv. If untreated, severe jaundice can cause hearing loss, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, kernicterus and even death. Crib A’glow is a solar-powered, foldable phototherapy crib provided to hospitals, health centers and parents, even in communities where access to quality healthcare and stable electricity is poor. Crib A’glow allows jaundiced babies to receive important phototherapy to help them regain health.
UGANICS (Uganda) – Uganda has one of the highest malaria transmissionrates in the worldvi, and malaria is also one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Uganda, especially among children under five years oldvii. Commercial mosquito repellent sprays or gels are often not available in rural shops nor are they affordable for many low-income parents. Uganics manufactures an organic, affordable soap that repels mosquitos with intent to help prevent the spread of malaria. Uganics’ soap can be utilized in a variety of ways, such as bathing, washing hands and washing clothes.
MSCAN (Uganda) – The WHO recommends at least one ultrasound scanbefore 24 weeks’ gestation and eight total prenatal visits for expecting mothersviii. Rural communities often lack access to ultrasound machines, requiring expecting mothers to spend valuable time, energy and resources on transportation to far away clinics in order to access ultrasound services. mSCAN’s device performs ultrasounds through the use of a portable probe and a tablet, laptop, or smartphone, allowing trained healthcare workers and midwives to be prepared for potential risk-factors during delivery.
Johnson & Johnson cross-sector teams will now begin working with each business and program and will report their progress at the Next Einstein Forum’s global gathering event in 2020. The Next Einstein Forum is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world.
“The winners of the first Africa Innovation Challenge have made significant advancements with their businesses, including hiring more workers, accelerating production and securing important patents and trademarks – all part of the ambitions and goals of the Challenge,” said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Public Health and Science Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson. “The new winners are equally impressive and talented, and we are confident that by linking the energy and ingenuity of these winners with the resources available through the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, that they will also make a real and lasting impact in communities across Africa.”