New HealthTech Hub aims to help entrepreneurs develop revolutionary tech for Africa’s growing health challenges

Dec 02, 2021
  • New support for innovations that transform healthcare for major health challenges: heart disease, breast cancer, and delivering virtual health services
  • Thirty African start-ups will be hosted at the HealthTech Hub Africa, based at Norrsken House in Kigali
  • The top five winners of the startup competition will be supported with grants totaling USD 85,000 from the Novartis Foundation
  • The winning start-up, Insightiv Technologies, is developing advanced technology to help radiologists detect life-threatening diseases faster, making medical imaging timely and accessible

Kigali, December 02, 2021 — Insightiv Technologies, a Rwandan company, today won an inaugural competition for African health start-ups, and will receive a financial prize and other support to develop its technology. Insightiv's innovative Teleradiology and AI platform is designed to have a major impact in democratizing access to medical imaging diagnostics. The HealthTech Hub Africa is part of a new investment push that aims to revolutionize the development of health technologies designed by Africans for use in Africa.

The HealthTech Hub Africa will host up to 30 health technology start-ups from sub-Saharan Africa, at a new purpose-built facility located at Norrsken House in Kigali, Rwanda. It will also support a healthtech network to bring policymakers and entrepreneurs together so that innovations can be scaled up rapidly. Supported by the Novartis Foundation, in collaboration with the Norrsken Foundation, the initial focus will be on technologies helping in the fight against heart disease, breast cancer, and in developing virtual health and care.

The 30 were chosen through an open competition, with the top five start-ups winning financial support. The first-place winner will receive USD 30,000, second place receives USD 20,000, third place receives USD 20,000, fourth place receives USD 10,000 and fifth place receives USD 5,000. Winners have come from Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria as well as Rwanda.

The winner of the competition, Insightiv, is developing advanced technology to help radiologists detect life-threatening diseases faster, making medical imaging timely and accessible. Audace Nakeshimana, the Founder & Executive Chairman of Insightiv said, “We are very excited with our forthcoming move to HealthTech Hub Africa. In Rwanda and across the continent, low access to radiologists is a profound healthcare challenge. We believe our technology will improve care by increasing the capacity of healthcare providers and enabling patients to be diagnosed accurately, efficiently, and remotely.”

Audace Nakeshimana founded Insightiv and began developing the technology in 2019, while completing his studies for a Computer Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. He established the company in Rwanda to involve local talent in the development of the technology, and ensure the solution can focus on solving the problem in an African context. This is particularly important as the regulatory and market constraints in Rwanda and other sub-Saharan countries are different from those in the global North.

Since 2000, life expectancy in Africa has increased by more than ten years, according to Dr. Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation, but chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease are becoming more common. “We hope the technologies developed at the HealthTech Hub Africa will make a real difference to accelerate detection and access to quality care for chronic diseases. The Novartis Foundation has had a long commitment to improving access to healthcare through breakthrough technologies,” she said.

This new development comes at a time where the global pandemic takes many lives every day. It calls for economic resilience and transformational digital technologies that can generate impactful change across all sectors. The HealthTech Hub Africa aims to be part of this drive towards technologies that deliver real social benefits.

Norrsken has raised several impact-focused venture capital funds, runs an impact-focused start-up accelerator program and operates two of the largest co-working spaces for technology companies focused on social impact in the world - in Stockholm, Sweden and in Kigali, Rwanda. The Foundation was set up by Niklas Adalberth, one of the founders of Klarna, a unicorn Swedish payments company, with the mission to help entrepreneurs solve the world’s greatest challenges.

“One of the world’s hardest and biggest problems is ensuring better health for the people of Africa in the face of staff shortages, budget constraints and the continuing threat from COVID-19,” said Pascal Murasira, Managing Director at Norrsken East Africa. “We believe that the healthtech start-ups we have selected for Norrsken House Kigali and the HealthTech Africa Hub have the potential to help solve some of these challenges” he added.
The HealthTech Africa Hub will provide the selected start-ups with a state-of-the-art workplace together with mentoring, expert support and access to investor capital.

About the Novartis Foundation

The Novartis Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Switzerland. For over 40 years, we have helped improve the health of low-income populations, initially supporting disease elimination in areas such as leprosy and malaria. Today, we tackle the burning issues of our time, cardiovascular diseases and health inequity. We take a population health approach, which means bringing together existing but disconnected data to help authorities understand the root causes of unequal health outcomes, and define the best ways and best partners to remediate those. This empowers governments to transform their health systems from being reactive to proactive, predictive and preventative, and achieve health equity among the populations they serve.

www.novartisfoundation.org

The Novartis Foundation is on Twitter at @NovartisFDN

About the Norrsken Foundation

The Norrsken Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 by the co-founder of Klarna, Niklas Adalberth. Its mission is to help entrepreneurs solve the greatest challenges facing the world today. Norrsken is non-religious and non-political — and has a strong belief in effective altruism.

The Foundation runs the award winning hub Norrsken House in Stockholm, Sweden and in 2021 Norrsken is opening East Africa’s biggest hub for entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda. The Foundation successfully incubated Norrsken VC – a €100 million impact VC fund investing in the best entrepreneurs that solve societal issues using technology, and manages the Norrsken Impact Accelerator, supporting early-stage impact startups with funding, mentorship and growth support.

www.norrsken.org


Novartis Foundation Media Relations
Contact: Carolyn Canham
Tel: +41 79 334 4325
Email: [email protected]

Novartis East Africa Media Relations
Contact: Paul Barasa
Tel: +254 719703195
Email: [email protected]

Norrsken Foundation Media Relations
Contact: Leah Dunlevy
Tel: +250 789102838
Email: [email protected]
WhatsApp: +16514311430