BY TOM JACKSON
Healthcare-focused incubator and grant funder Villgro Kenya is seeking frontline solutions and innovations that can help carry societies through the storm of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
The India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation launched an incubator for early-stage businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sector in Nairobi in 2017. Villgro Kenya offers mentoring, funding and access to networks, and most recently provided grant capital to Kenyan and Ugandan startups last month.
In response to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the incubator wants to help entrepreneurs develop and scale solutions that can mitigate the effects of the outbreak and help recovery in a post-coronavirus world.
“Public health experts predict that social distancing with periods of total lockdown may continue for the next 18 months before a vaccine is ready. Furthermore, the outbreak could come in waves rather than in one single event,” Villgro said.
“Countries should therefore prepare for a far-reaching health, economic and social crisis. Developing countries will need to develop homegrown solutions given that the traditional crisis response actors are focused on the domestic front.”
Villgro is thus proposing an approach whereby government, academia and the private sector join hands to support local innovations that can be scaled across the continent in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and is inviting potential partner organisations to join its latest initiative. It is seeking startups with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the coronavirus outbreak.
Key themes include registry-based follow-up of critically ill patients, emergency response, medical devices and commodities such as quality affordable ventilators, sanitiser manufacture, oxygen concentrators, respirator masks and drug delivery systems, risk communication, social dynamics and public health response, and supporting healthcare system response.