Tech business incubators and accelerators are becoming a more common sight across Nigeria and Africa. While the jury is still out on their effectiveness and sustainability, it’s difficult to dispute some of the utility they provide for access to services otherwise inaccessible to the average Nigerian entrepreneur.
One particular drawback however of the average incubator/ accelerator for health tech startups, is the lack of experience in the specialized and regulated world of health care. This often translates to a deficiency in guidance or mentoring for the participating founders. In some cases the lack of understanding of the unique proposition that health care presents may result in bad advice and execution.
In one instance, I recall attempting to explain to a non health care savvy person that the marketing tactic they were proposing would likely result in officials of the law closing us down, or as in another instance, that our feature set needed to pass through medical evidence evaluation to ensure some type of efficacy. In both cases, they couldn’t quite understand it. Relatedly I recently happened upon a conversation where the participants opined that the major barrier to a good online pharmacy was selecting the right technology framework
These instances demonstrates a need for health care savvy incubators, accelerators and communities. That saaviness can be obtained in various ways, one such way is by having a health tech startup already in the portfolio. I’ve listed programs below that either have the latter or have an inherent health tech focus in their DNA.
There are several programmes in the U.S. Many of the traditional big ones take on health tech startups: Techstars, Y combinator, 500 startups. The most prominent health focused ones to be aware of are:
1. https://www.startuphealth.com/ — “building a global community of health care transformers”
2. https://rockhealth.com/ — Describes itself as a venture fund but seems to operate in similar ways to an accelerator
These programmes accept international applicants in some instances. Visit their websites to find out more. Startup Health has an international academy where one can sign up to to avail of several resources.
Rock health has a startup handbook every health tech founder would do well to be familiar with. http://rockhealth.com/startup-handbook/
Most of the information is biased for the U.S market of course but there are still a lot of nuggets to glean.
Nigeria — Africa
cchub — The mother of Nigerian incubators, it has a largely social focus and has a button on it’s site asking for ideas to be considered for support. In it’s portfolio is a health tech startup that aims to make blood more accessible :lifebank. They’ve also launched a growth fund that’s looking to invest in early stage business providing “next generation infrastructure for change”
Idea — A tech hub setup by the Nigerian government, has locations in Lagos and Calabar. I’ve come across a few health tech startups in their portfolio. Unfortunately that information doesn’t seem to be on their website any longer. Would appreciate more info from any one in the know.
Leadpath — Lagos based seed capital fund that specializes in providing short, medium and long term funding to small and medium sized start-up businesses in high growth technology areas such as software, web and mobile technologies. Has meditell, a hospital patient engagement startup in it’s portfolio.
HIDAP — The health accelerator program of the private sector health alliance of Nigeria (PHN). Participants of the inaugural program were selected from the PHN’s health innovation competition. They received focused acceleration in areas of health care and business.
Merck accelerator — Accelerator of the huge pharma company Merck. Has locations in Germany and another in Nairobi. Graduated its first Nairobi cohort recently — Miti health and Totohealth. Has the necessary big company infrastructure to turn any startup into a behemoth.
Startup bootcamp digital health — Digital health focused accelerator with location in Berlin, Germany. Accepts international startups. Has good access to health care partners and mentors who’ve done a lot in health care.
Dotforge — U.K based accelerator with a specific health + data track. Check out website for more info.
These are the few programs I’ve come across. Always keep an eye out on F6Sfor new opportunities in the digital health space. Remember to assess the health experience and expertise of any accelerator opportunities you come across. Try speaking to portfolio companies if you can before signing on the dotted line.
Please comment below with more health care focused incubators, accelerators and communities that may be added to this list.