The lifeblood of most modern industries today is innovation, as it sets the tone for progress and enables businesses to gain a competitive advantage, create additional jobs and within the health sector specifically, change the lives of people by offering patients’ an enhanced level of care.
Earlier this year, Philips partnered with The Innovation Hub in Pretoria to launch the first Innovation Fellows Competition in South Africa with the aim of uncovering and supporting the next big innovative ideas that will not only help revolutionise the South Africa health industry, but also assist in addressing regionally relevant challenges in healthcare.
The top five finalists of the competition have now been selected from a list of outstanding submissions garnered from the 61 local entries and will be awarded R12 000 each. In addition, they will be partnered with a mentor who will guide and tutor them on the necessities needed to putting together a winning business plan and pitch.
The overall winner, who will be announced in November, will receive R200 000 as a research and development budget for their #nextbigidea in improving access to primary healthcare.
“New innovations can have a substantial impact on health care service delivery by allowing for better access to care thanks to more affordable products for instance, enabling faster diagnosis of illnesses or more effective treatment of diseases,” says JJ van Dongen, senior vice-president and CEO of Philips Africa.
He adds that the most exciting part of this competition for Philips is unearthing talent from South Africa, whose innovations will serve as local solutions to South African healthcare challenges. These include:
* Carol Thomas’ iMobiMama IT platform and Mobile Kiosk that will increase access to maternal care highlighting antenatal care in public and private sectors.
* Sudesh Sivarasu proposes to develop a low-cost portable mechanical non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilator that is mechanically operated and will be used to tackle asthma in children aged five to 10 years old.
* Ragesh Pillai is looking to make the management of diabetes easier which involves controlling blood sugar levels through monitoring one’s diet, exercising and checking blood glucose levels regularly to prevent the side effects of diabetes such as kidney failure. Pillai’s aim is to tackle the challenge of improving diabetes management through diabetes management software service designed to facilitate remote monitoring and communication between patients and their caregivers at low cost.
* Dean Hodgskiss’s solution aims to increase the capacity of healthcare workers and medical equipment at primary healthcare sites through the utilisation of a mobile communication app specifically developed to operate effectively under challenging African telecommunications conditions. The proposed solution is an application which runs on Android, iOS and Windows, will provide caregivers in remote areas (even ones with very poor and unreliable Internet connections) with the ability to connect to anyone else using the application located anywhere in the world.
* De Wet Swanepoel wants to provide access to early identification of hearing loss, using the low-cost hearScreen mHealth solution, which will result in more timely intervention for optimal developmental in children.
“We are inspired by these finalists and are looking forward to providing real healthcare solutions that will make a real difference in people’s lives,” Van Dongen says