South African tech startup Vula Mobile has been announced as the overall winner of pharmaceutical giant Sanofi’s Afric@Tech initiative.
Aligned to Sanofi’s objective of accelerating healthcare innovation, the Afric@Tech challenge invited start-ups working on the continent to submit their technology solutions aimed at solving the issue of accessibility to quality healthcare, specialist training, and the better management of chronic diseases with special focus on the less privileged.
Ten finalists were chosen from a number of African countries to represent the continent at Viva Technology – a world-leading 3-day event in Paris that brings together over 6 000 specialists and stakeholders who are dedicated to digital transformation.
Among the finalists were start-ups Bisa, GiftedMom, Informed Healthcare, KEA Medicals, MedTrucks, Otrac, Sagitarix, Yapill, and from South Africa, Vula Mobile and Appenberg Digital Publishing.
Live presentations were held in front of a select audience, with Vula Mobile – a cutting-edge application that empowers rural communities by connecting healthcare workers with a vast professional medical network across 15 specialties – walking away with the first prize.
Vula Mobile was established in 2014, and is available free of charge. Through this referral app, GPs and primary healthcare workers in under-served areas can access tailored specialist advice within minutes – saving both patients and medical practitioners time and money while attending to potentially dangerous health issues.
“We are excited to have unearthed such ground-breaking technology that serves the disadvantaged on their journeys to health and healing. All finalists gave such impressive exhibitions of their works, so while we were proud of each, we also had a tough time deciding who would take the prize. We wish every single one of our African innovators all the best in their business endeavours,” says Thibault Crosnier Leconte, Country Chair and RX GM, South African, Namibia and Botswana.
Dr William Mapham, founder of Vula Mobile, says it was a great honour to be selected; and a privilege to get to meet other innovators at the high profile global event.
“The work on exhibition at the event showed different approaches to a wide range of health problems. Each country has unique challenges with delivering health care and it was enlightening to learn about these first-hand from other innovators. Sanofi is a global company, so we hope to work together with them to expand our services, both in South Africa and into other countries too.
“The data that Sanofi collects is valuable and far-reaching … one of our dreams is to present Artificial Intelligence that gives health workers a differential before even contacting a specialist across 15 medical and surgical specialties. This would be ground-breaking. Healthcare is best delivered through collaboration, and we believe the sponsorship opportunities presented to us by Sanofi could prove to be a magnificent example of this,” says Dr Mapham.