20 Rwandan health-tech innovators win to benefit from continental hub

KIGALI-Twenty Rwandan startups making innovations in the health sector have won an opportunity to benefit from Norssken’s Health Tech Hub, a new facility established to help African entrepreneurs develop revolutionary tech for the continent’s growing health challenges.

According to New Times newspaper, the hub will support innovations that transform healthcare for major health challenges including heart disease, breast cancer, and delivering virtual health services.
Paula Ingabire (L), the Minister of ICT and Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Minister of Health cut the ribbon to launch the health tech hub in Kigali. (Photo by NewTimes).

The 20 local start-ups are part of a total of 30 African start-ups which will be hosted at the Health Tech Hub Africa and will have access to a state-of-the-art workplace together with mentoring, expert support and access to investor capital.

The 30 were chosen through an open competition, with the top five start-ups winning financial support. The overall winner received $30,000, while the first and second runners-up were awarded $20,000. The fourth and fifth will be given $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.

Insightiv, a Rwandan start-up that has developed a technology to help radiologists detect life-threatening diseases faster, making medical imaging timely and accessible, topped the competition and won a grant of USD 30,000.

It is an innovative tele-radiology platform that among other things aims at using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect diseases from radiology images.

In an interview, Frank Kwizera, a software engineer at Insightiv said the innovation is a way of bridging the gap in medical service delivery in developing countries

Kwizera said the grant they won will be used to pilot their technology in at least five public hospitals in Rwanda.

Audace Nakeshimana, the Founder & Executive Chairman of Insightiv said; “We are very excited with our forthcoming move to HealthTech Hub Africa. In Rwanda and across the continent, low access to radiologists is a profound healthcare challenge. We believe our technology will improve care by increasing the capacity of healthcare providers and enabling patients to be diagnosed accurately, efficiently, and remotely.”

Nakeshimana founded Insightiv and began developing the technology in 2019, while completing his studies for a computer science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a prestigious US-based college.

He established the company in Rwanda to involve local talent in the development of the technology, and ensure the solution can focus on solving the problem in an African context.

The HealthTech-hub will also create a health-tech network that brings policymakers and entrepreneurs together so that innovations can be scaled up rapidly.

Pascal Murasira, the Managing Director at Norrsken East Africa said he believes the hub can come up with solutions for one of the world’s hardest and biggest problems and ensure better health for the people of the continent in the face of staff shortages, budget constraints and the continuing threat from COVID-19.

“We believe that the health-tech start-ups we have selected for Norrsken House Kigali and the HealthTech Africa Hub have the potential to help solve some of these challenges” he said.

According to Dr. Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation (a Swiss non-profit organisation that has provided financial support to the tech-hub), since 2000, life expectancy in Africa has increased by more than ten years, but chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease are becoming more common.

“We hope the technologies developed at the HealthTech Hub Africa will make a real difference to accelerate detection and access to quality care for chronic diseases. The Novartis Foundation has had a long commitment to improving access to healthcare through breakthrough technologies,” she said.

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