Following the announcement of the first Innovation Fellows Competition last month, Philips Africa in partnership with the Innovation Hub is a step closer to revealing healthcare’s ‘next big idea.’

In the lead up to the final selection, Philips has announced five competition finalists, selected from 61 entrants, who have each received R12,000.

“The most exciting part of this competition for Philips is unearthing talent from South Africa, whose innovations will serve as local solutions to South African healthcare challenges,” said Philips Africa Senior Vice President and CEO, JJ Van Dongen.

“New innovations can have a substantial impact on healthcare service delivery by allowing for better access to care thanks to more affordable products for instance, enabling faster diagnosis of illnesses or more effective treatment of diseases,” continued Van Dongen.

The top five finalists include notable names from the South African eHealth space, some of which eHealthNews has highlighted in the past.

One finalist is start-up founder, Dean Hodgskiss, whose solution aims to increase the capacity of healthcare workers and medical equipment at primary healthcare sites through the utilisation of a mobile communication app specifically developed to operate effectively under challenging African telecommunications conditions. The app, which runs on Android, iOS and Windows, will provide caregivers in remote areas, even ones with very poor and unreliable internet connections, the ability to connect to anyone else using the application located anywhere in the world.

Audiologist at the University of Pretoria, Prof De Wet Swanepoel, wants to provide access to early identification of hearing loss using the low-cost hearScreen mHealth solution, which will result in more timely intervention for optimal development in children.

Gynaecologist Dr Carol Thomas’ iMobiMama IT platform and Mobile Kiosk aims to increase access to maternal care highlighting antenatal care in public and private sectors, while Dr Ragesh Pillai aims to improve diabetes monitoring through an mHealth tool designed to facilitate remote monitoring and communication between patients and their care givers at low cost.

The fifth finalist is University of Cape Town (UCT) Senior Lecturer in the Division of Biomedical Engineering, Dr Sudesh Sivarasu, who proposes to develop a low-cost portable mechanical non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilator that is mechanically operated and will be used to tackle Asthma in children aged 5 to 10 years old.

In preparation for the finale, each finalist will be partnered with a mentor who will guide and tutor them on the necessities needed to putting together a winning business plan and pitch.

The overall winner will be announced in November 2015 and will receive R 200,000 as a research and development budget for their ‘next big idea’.

“We are inspired by these finalists and are looking forward to providing real healthcare solutions that will make a real difference in people’s lives,” concluded van Dongen.

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