For the last decade, African start-ups have become quite popular, attracting billions in investment. However, most start-ups have failed due to financial and technological barriers hindering growth. This has been the case across all sectors, from the financial industry to health. As a result, AstraZeneca and Futurize, an eco-crowd funding platform that focuses on tackling humanity’s biggest challenges, have partnered up to launch a new incubator program that aims to help African start-ups in the health sector establish themselves.
The incubator program, FuturizeU, is dedicated to nurturing early-stage university startups in Africa’s healthcare sector. Its core mission is to equip the upcoming generation of healthcare entrepreneurs with the essential tools to navigate start-up complexities. Through AstraZeneca’s A.Catalyst Network and co-funded by Bristol Myers Squibb, the program will run from September 12 to November 17, 2023.
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After facing the pandemic three years ago and continuing to face challenges in tackling some diseases, such as cholera, Africa requires assistance to tackle these challenges. The program will be key to developing solutions that address critical healthcare equity and early non-communicable disease (NCD) diagnosis challenges across the African continent, harnessing the region’s abundant untapped potential.
According to Jonathan Calder, Head of Digital and IT for the African Cluster at AstraZeneca, the program is critical to improving the health sector in Africa.
“Our partnership with Futurize is integral to our unwavering commitment to improve health equity and create sustainable impact in Africa. Each day at AstraZeneca, we work hand in hand with diverse stakeholders across Africa to address some of the most pressing healthcare issues our communities face. I am thrilled that through the FuturizeU HealthTech Incubator program, we will now provide young innovators in Africa an excellent launchpad opportunity to join us in our ambition to deliver pioneering solutions to improve patient outcomes,” he said.
Health start-ups will have access to cutting-edge technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) through the program. With the assistance of these technologies, healthcare advancement is accelerated, nurturing a fertile ground for innovation. FuturizeU is a nexus of knowledge sharing, mentorship, and collaboration. These start-ups will have access to mentorship, investors, and other support. The program’s curriculum delves into critical start-up principles, covering product-market fit, financial strategies, and practical go-to-market approaches. Seasoned advisers and industry experts will guide aspiring entrepreneurs and provide them with networking opportunities, ensuring their ideas flourish.
According to Rhea Singhla, CEO of Futurize, incubator programs are exactly what African youth need to reach their potential. “Undoubtedly, incubator programs are paramount for African youth as they are not as readily accessible. These initiatives act as dynamic launchpads, igniting the latent potential of our young entrepreneurs and providing them with the essential tools, mentorship, and resources required to translate their innovative ideas into impactful solutions,” he said.
Participants looking forward to benefiting from the program will be able to showcase their startups to a diverse network of industry partners, investors, and stakeholders at the FuturizeU Demo Day in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 17, 2023. Moving forward, the partnership also aims to explore further partnership opportunities to support healthcare entrepreneurs in Africa and strengthen healthcare systems in the region and beyond.