The digital health landscape is rife with opportunity – that was the resounding message to come out of yesterday’s final session of Digital Health Cape Town (DHCT) first accelerator programme whereby participants pitched their innovations to VCs and potential investors. The VC event was hosted by Wesgro, at their office in Cape Town.

Throughout the 10 week accelerator, local digital health entrepreneurs engaged with mentors, leading healthcare organisations and business leaders to refine their innovations that culminated in a chance to potentially secure investment.

“What sets DHCT apart from other accelerator programmes is that we aim to give entrepreneurs the tools they need to introduce a commercially viable product or service into the market,” said DHCT founder, Siraaj Adams. “We were fortunate to work with new and up and coming disruptors to the digital health space to give them a platform to learn, refine and network with the right people.”

Investors and industry leaders that attended the event included, the Medicine Research Council, HAVIAC, Edge Growth, Business Partners, InnoCircle, oneBio, GRM Search, mLab and Ethicore.

We spoke to some of the finalists about their DHCT experience:

Udok

Telehealth startup, Udok, was founded by Dr Petrus Van Niekerk in 2017 and aims to bridge the gap between doctors and patients in remote or rural areas.

“I’ve witnessed the barriers to access first hand both growing up when my father was a regional doctor on the West Coast and in my own career as a medical doctor in rural Canada. Patients spending days travelling to a facility to have a follow up or to refill a prescription points to the necessity to bring quality care closer to patients,” said Dr van Niekerk when pitching VCs.

When asked what he took away from the accelerator, Dr van Niekerk said: “We have gained access to big players in the market much faster than we could have done without the support of the programme.”

Vula Mobile

Award winning medical referral app, Vula Mobile, is the brainchild of Dr William Mapham. The professional medical network is designed to directly connect health workers in remote and under-served areas to medical and surgical specialists. Since its launch in 2014, the app covers 15 specialities and supporting healthcare professionals with access to other professionals has reduced unnecessary referrals by over 30%.

Vula recently raised R1-million in funding after partnering with HAVAÍC, a Cape Town-based investment and advisory firm that specialises in early-stage businesses in Africa.

When asked what’s next for Vula, Dr Mapham replied: “We’re grateful to be recognised locally, as well as internationally as a top 20 finalist in Amazon’s City on a Cloud Awards and have been invited to participate in the Sanofi Viva Technology accelerator in Paris in June.”

Aviro Health

Founder of Aviro Health, Dr Musaed Abrahams pitched his latest endeavour, Ithaka – a mobile solution that aims to support patients on their health journey and link them to appropriate care.

DHCT - EHN

Dr Musaed Abrahams pitching to investors.

Dr Abrahams has previously developed the ART Treatment Mentor app using his extensive experience as an HIV Training Coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to design the solution. In addition, Aviro has also created patient-oriented HIV education videos explaining HIV basics, viral load and the importance of ARV adherence.

Through the accelerator, Dr Abrahams is looking for strategic partners and further funding to expand Aviro’s reach.

GeneCare Molecular Genetics

GeneCare is a platform for personal trainers to deliver high-quality, personalised training and lifestyle management programmes. GeneCare’s Managing Director, Jan-Roux Kotze says the company’s use of genetic testing to customise holistic programmes aims to tackle obesity as a primary cause of non-communicable diseases.

“The exposure we got from the accelerator was phenomenal and has opened doors to some of the industry’s most influential companies. We’re currently in talks with investors and a potential healthcare partner,” said Kotze.

ConnecTB

ConnecTB is a web tool that allows administrators, supervisors and directly observed therapy (DOT) providers to register and monitor TB patients. Digital health advisor at Aquity Innovations, Brighton Khumalo, says ConnecTB aims to be the best platform to manage TB patients.

GRIP – GC Network

GRIP, a startup co-founded by Suretha Erasmus, has developed its own Genetic Risk In Pregnancy screening app which informs individuals of their risk of genetic abnormality in pregnancy.

“GRIP offers expectant parents detailed information from prenatal tests and empowers them to make informed decisions. We enjoyed the experience from the DHCT – exposure, networking and we’re looking forward to rolling out our solution by early next year,” said Erasmus.

Applications for the second DHCT accelerator programme are now open. The call was launched on Tuesday (3rd of April 2018) and applications close on the 15th of May. The second accelerator programme is also open to startups with medical devices linked to mobile apps. Applications can be downloaded here.

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