Netcare, Founders scout for African health-tech start-ups

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 28 Jun 2019
Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group.
Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group.

Hospital group Netcare has partnered with Founders Factory Africa (FFA) to scout for 40 health-tech start-ups across Africa, working on health technologies that seek to provide decent healthcare on the continent.

Netcare and FFA will provide support, access to global capital, and a network of international entrepreneurs, as well as investors to help the start-ups.

FFA, a corporate-backed tech accelerator and incubator, which provides a platform for entrepreneurs to build and scale health-tech start-ups across Africa, says the initiative targets start-ups that are “in-market and with customers or users, and post-revenue but not necessarily profit-generating”.

Mariam Iqbal, head of ecosystem engagement at FFA, says the start-ups should have a strong founding team and business that could scale Africa-wide.

She says start-ups wanting to participate should be technology-enabled, but not necessarily tech-focused.

“[Start-ups] in sectors including fintech, health, retail, energy, transportation and education, and from any country in Africa, or outside Africa but wishing to enter/scale into the continent, can apply,” says Iqbal.

The selected firms will undergo a six-month incubation programme focused on building health-tech start-ups and scaling the businesses. A full-time team of over 40 digital and technical experts across Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and London will help build and grow the companies.

Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group, says the initiative enables his company to stimulate healthcare innovation and development in South Africa and across the rest of the continent.

“We are proud to be joining Founders Factory Africa in creating a support system for entrepreneurs which will help them grow innovative healthcare businesses and will provide value to people across Africa, while also unlocking future investment opportunities for Netcare."

Netcare says it will provide access to hospitals, primary healthcare clinics and healthcare value chains, deep health technical expertise, data and intellectual property.

The FFA, Netcare initiative has been lauded as a necessary venture.

Business coach and strategist Dr Muriel Chinoda, MD of Business Engine, says the venture is a welcome development for the continent and is to be applauded, “especially coming at a time when South Africa and the whole of Africa is in need of innovative medical care and services”.

She notes: “Most African countries and populace have developed to the point where technology is within reach, and technology disruption such as big data and analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, Internet of medical things, nanotechnology, has ushered in loads of ground-breaking opportunities in healthcare delivery.

“As this venture assists in building ventures, we await significant changes in how healthcare is administered in terms of patient access, patient engagement, lower waiting times, lower costs, and of course, improved revenues for the service providers.”

FFA co-founder and CEO Roo Rogers says together with Netcare, FFA will unlock ground-breaking opportunities in accessing affordable healthcare.

“We will deliver digitised healthcare solutions and contribute to spearheading Africa's innovation in healthcare. The time, the opportunity, and the need is now, for driving Africa's health-tech to improve the lives of millions of people."

Start-ups can apply here.