A Cape Town based company known for its contributions to HIV drug-resistance testing, Hyrax Biosciences, has released a software tool to detect mutations in the genome of Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19.
This, as eight entrepreneurs, including five female entrepreneurs, are combining their engineering and business skills in the fight against Covid-19 in Africa thanks to funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Project Care initiative.
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With the coronavirus (Covid-19) headlining news all over the world, Ventureburn has launched a regular daily roundup on the virus and how it is affecting Africa’s tech startup sector.
Hyrax Biosciences, has released a software tool to detect mutations in the genome of Sars-CoV-2
Here then is the latest on the coronavirus and African tech startups:
Eight entrepreneurs honoured: Eight entrepreneurs, including five female entrepreneurs, are combining their engineering and business skills in the fight against Covid-19 in Africa thanks to funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Project Care (Covid Africa Rapid Entrepreneurs) initiative. Each of the eight has received £5000 to support them in pivoting or scaling up their current business model. The eight are: The Slimlak Agencies’s Catherine Wanjoya (Kenya), Josephine Marie Godwyll (Ghana) of Lab & Library on Wheels, Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu (Nigeria) of Macjames Global Resources Limited, ChanjoPlus’s Osewe Collince Oluoch (Kenya), Afyakit’s Frida Njogu-Ndongwe (Kenya), Givo’s Victor Boyle-Komolafe (Nigeria), Farmers Assistant’s Linah Pununu Maphanga (South Africa) and Farmz2U’s Aishat Raheem (Nigeria).
Biotech releases Covid-19 software tool: A Cape Town based company known for its contributions to HIV drug-resistance testing, Hyrax Biosciences, has released a software tool to detect mutations in the genome of Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. The Exatype Sars-CoV-2 runs on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud and is used worldwide in efforts to track the evolution of the virus. The tool automates the analysis and interpretation of data, reducing the time spent analysing the data from days or weeks to hours. Pricing for the service is generally bundled into the cost of the partner’s genetic full test, meaning that end-users (primarily pathology laboratories) do not pay the startup directly. The startup was founded in 2015 by Baruch Lubinsky, Dr Imogen Wright, Dr Simon Travers and Dr Natasha Wood (pictured above, from left to right). Initial product development was funded by government grants.
Edtech uses Telegram for coaching: An Ethiopian edtech startup, Accelerated has launched a coaching programme for parents to help them carry out home schooling. The programme is being run on the secure messaging platform Telegram, tech publication Disrupt Africa reported in an article yesterday.
Getsmarter man to open campuses: Former Getsmarter co-founder Rob Paddock has announced that his online high school, the Valenture Institute, will in January 2021 be opening doors for its boutique, tech-enabled high school campuses in Joburg and Cape Town. The campuses will be located in Constantia and Newlands in Cape Town; and Sandton in Johannesburg. Each campus will include real-time Covid-19 monitoring. While annual fees range between R95 000 and R115 000, the institute says it is offering a payment concession to alleviate school fee penalties in the transition to online learning and enrolling at the institute.
Featured image: Hyrax Biosciences founders Baruch Lubinsky, Dr Imogen Wright, Dr Simon Travers and Dr Natasha Wood (Supplied)
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Chief executive Jens Montanana says the group delivered strong results in the past year.
Ghanaian healthtech startup mPharma has reportedly raised a $17-million investment.
The Accra based medicine benefits and inventory manager, which was founded in 2013 by Gregory Rockson (pictured above), Daniel Shoukimas and James Finucane, aims to increase patient access to affordable high quality medications.
Quartz Africa announced the raise in an article yesterday, adding that Helena Foulkes, former president of CVS, the largest pharmacy retail chain in the US, had been appointed to the company’s board.
The publication said the CDC Group, UK’s development finance arm led the round. Existing investors including former Novartis CEO and chairman Daniel Vasella, Silicon Valley investor Jim Breyer and Dompe Holdings also took part in the investment round.
CDC Group, UK’s development finance arm, reportedly mPharma’s $17m investment round
The latest announcement comes after mPharma raised over $9-million in a Series-B funding round in January last year (see this story).
At the time it did not disclose the investors that took part in that round, but Crunchbase lists them as Martin Li, Justin Mateen, Golden Palm Investments and 4DX Ventures.
Quartz Africa said the latest funding will help the company to expand its vendor management inventory (VMI) system and QualityRx platforms which are being used by 250 pharmacies in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Covid-19 testing centres
Last month Rockson announced in a tweet that the startup planned to equip and re-purpose private labs into Covid-19 testing centres.
He said the company would start in Ghana and before expanding the programme to Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia.
The company is also working with the Red Cross to set up testing centres in “fragile” countries starting in Zimbabwe, the startup revealed in a newsletter.
In April last year mPharma was named as one of five winners of the 2019 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.
Based on reported deals, business information platform Crunchbase estimates that — including this latest investment — mPharma has raised a total of $38.3-million in funding since its launch.
Featured image: The CEO and co-founder of mPharma, Gregory Rockson (Facebook)
Labour and employment minister Thulas Nxesi must play open cards about the worsening calamity at the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Group leaps 10% on JSE after announcing plan to roll out a consolidation strategy to rightsize its business
Cape Town based insurtech startup Inclusivity Solutions has secured a $1.3-million investment in the second tranche of its Series A round, the startup announced in a statement today.
Inclusivity Solutions, which was founded in 2015 by CEO Jeremy Leach (pictured above), designs, builds and operates inclusive digital insurance solutions.
The latest investment brings the startup’s total Series-A round to $2.6-million (see this story).
Inclusivity Solutions said it has so far launched digital insurance initiatives in Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda and Kenya, in partnership with Orange, Airtel and Equity Bank’s Equitel respectively.
The latest investment in Inclusivity Solutions brings the startup’s total Series-A round to $2.6m
It said collectively a range of hospital cash and simple life products have provided protection to more than 700 000 people.
It said the investment will be used to deepen the company’s footprint within its existing markets, support further international expansion as well as accelerate innovation in the backbone technology platform, ASPin, which underpins the three existing products.
Commenting on the investment in the same statement, Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa said he’d known the Inclusivity Solutions team for many years.
He added that as players in the fintech space his startup, has had the opportunity to collaborate with the startup on what he called a few “exciting opportunities”.
MFS Africa’s investment was made through MFS Africa Frontiers, a vehicle dedicated to exploring Frontier opportunities in the greater fintech ecosystem.
Editor’s note (27 May 2020): It’s not clear why the two figures — the $1.3-million from this tranche and the $1.56-million from the first tranche, do not add up to $2.6-million. Neither Goodwell Investments nor Inclusivity Solutions were immediately available for comment.
Featured image: Inclusivity Solutions CEO Jeremy Leach (LinkedIn)
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Global pharmaceutical company Sanofi has announced the names of 11 startups that will take part in an online pitch next month as part of its AfricaTech Challenge.
The pitch, which will take place on 11 June and includes four challenges, will replace the 2020 edition of VivaTech that was to be held in Paris, tech publication Techmoran reported in an article yesterday.
A winner for each of the four challenges will be announced at the end of the pitch.
Sanofi’s AfricaTech Challenge pitch will include four challenges and take place on 11 June
Techmoran said for the pitch Sanofi received 268 applications from 34 countries across the continent.
Challenge 1. Digital health book:
Bypa-ss (Egypt) has a healthtech platform called HealthTag that facilitates checkups.
Keeplyna (Tunisia) is an ehealth platform that offers telemedicine.
Eyone (Senegal) allows patients to share their medical records with health professionals.
Challenge 2. Smart logistics:
Doctor 4 Africa (India) has an online platform that connects patients to health-care professionals in under served communities in Africa.
Mobilhealth International (Nigeria) is a telehealth electronic medical records and video app.
Challenge 3. Health financing:
Soso Care (Nigeria) allows Nigerians to access health insurance and care in 1170 clinics.
MamaPrime (Kenya) enables mothers and their families to make pre-payments for their prenatal and postnatal care.
JokkoSanté (Senegal) is a digital payment platform for money intended for health.
Challenge 4. Maternal and neonatal health:
Teheca (Uganda) connects new and expecting mothers to qualified nurses for post-natal checkups at their homes.
The University Agency Innovation (Cameroon) has a spin-off called AUI Techno that designs and produces an interactive infant incubator.
Natal Cares (Nigeria) has an integrated solution providing healthcare, medical monitoring and emergency services to at-risk pregnant women and nursing mothers belonging to disconnected rural communities.
Featured image: Sanofi US via Facebook
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The financial and Fiscal Commission has asked the government to deploy a bolder economic recovery stimulus package.
Changes in the way customers expect to engage with the financial services sector and increasing pressure from regulators is compelling financial services companies to come up with innovative ways to manage their data.
Financial services businesses view information or data as a significant corporate asset. They are successfully mining data from customer interactions and from a wider pool of digitally-available information to create more relevant and sophisticated product offerings for their customers.
“Big data” is a term that describes the collection, organisation, processing and analysis of large volumes of structured and unstructured data, in real-time, to create real value for businesses. Big data can be described by the following key characteristics:
- Volume. This refers to the quantity of data generated from a variety of sources including business transactions, social media and information from sensor or machine-to-machine data. This type of data cannot be reviewed by conventional software and is generally difficult to store.
- Variety. The data ranges from structured, numeric data in traditional databases to unstructured text documents, emails, videos, audios and financial transactions.
- Velocity. The data is created and updated frequently and can be analysed in real time.
The use of big data will become more established and entrenched as the amount of data generated in the financial services sector and the ability of businesses to glean useful insights from that data increases.
Those financial sector firms that master the regulatory requirements of big data, will set the trend in customer services and increase profitability
In 2015, IBM reported that the world creates 2.5 quintillion (a million trillion) or 1018 bytes of data every day. It is also estimated that worldwide revenues for big data and analytics will exceed $203-billion in 2020.
It is difficult to over-estimate the impact of big data on the financial services sector, as it is probably the most data-intensive sector in the global economy.
The real strategic value of big data lies in the insights it provides to organisations into the behaviour of customers and competitors’ customers when developing, fine-tuning and pricing new products, which represents an opportunity to gain competitive advantage.
To unlock the value of the big data revolution, financial services businesses will need to partner with big data software specialists to properly analyse the right data faster and at lower costs.
In the longer term, and as big data continues to inundate financial services businesses, IT infrastructure will need to be overhauled to maintain those businesses’ ability to process high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety data in real time to add value.
Legal and commercial considerations
To properly leverage big data and continue to innovate in the financial services sector, financial services businesses must consider a number of legal and commercial considerations.
Financial services businesses globally have already been criticised for their use and commercialisation of big data and the impact this has had on privacy and data security.
Since a large amount of the big data generated in the financial services sector contains personal information (of
individual customers and businesses), it is essential for SA financial services businesses to ensure that the information/data collected, processed, transferred or stored will meet the thresholds prescribed by the Protection of Personal Information Act (opens as a PDF).
It is also important for financial services businesses to take account of the considerations that apply to licensing software from third parties for the purposes of organising and analysing big data.
When licensing this software, it is essential that the licence clearly sets out who will hold the licence to use and analyse the data and what the purpose of the licence is.
In addition, it is important that the licence sets out an implementation schedule detailing the various milestones and acceptance criteria, which should be linked to the payment terms.
To take advantage of the assortment of big data created, it is not unusual for financial services businesses to combine their own data with data owned by third parties.
In this event, the third-party data must be properly licensed to the financial services businesses, taking into account the intended purpose of the licensed data and whether it is necessary for that data to be sub-licensed to a third-party software licensor.
It is also essential for all data licences to properly govern the ownership and use of the intellectual property rights in any new data that is created as a result of the data analysis process.
Moreover, licences should contain specific warranties related to ownership and use where third party intellectual property rights have been used in the creation of new data.
To successfully compete in this consumer-centric environment, it is increasingly clear that businesses, including those in the financial services sector, must leverage their information ordata assets in a lawful manner to gain a comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, competitors, employees and regulations.
The businesses that master this, and get a firm hold on all the legal and regulatory compliance requirements, will set the trend in customer services, increase profitability and will be geared to adapt more efficiently to the ever-changing regulatory and competitive demands of the financial services industry.
*Carla Collett is a partner at Webber Wentzel attorneys
Featured image: ColossusCloud via Pixabay
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Woolworths scrapped its 2020 dividend and said it was reviewing its Australasian property assets as it battles conditions created by Covid-19.