Following its call for technology-based tools to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and across Africa, Ventures Platform has selected its first set of winning projects.

The seven startups whose tools have been selected from a shortlist of 15 will receive US$1,000 grants, workspace, legal services and mentorship from the Ventures Platform team.

The call was open to companies solving for a range of current issues directly or indirectly resulting from the pandemic including reporting, tracing, real time tracking, remote work tools, distribution of goods and service and healthcare management. 

Over 500 applications were received, according to the Africa-focused venture firm, and those not selected to move forward in the competition will continue to receive the support of the venture firm in building out their solutions.

“We will extend support to those who didn’t make the first cut by providing AWS Credit and access to the VP team, and a community of other innovators working on COVID-19 through a slack channel,” the Ventures Platform team said.

The Lagos state government through the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), Nigerian Economic Summit Group and Nigeria Center for Disease Control are some of the government agencies supporting the initiative.

The seven winning solutions are: 

COVID Triage by Wellvis: Wellvis’ triage platform is a simple digital assessment tool that allows anyone anywhere on the continent assess if they are at risk of contracting the virus, what they need to do if they are at low, medium or high risk and when they need to seek medical help. 

This is especially important to limit unnecessary contact and reduce how rapidly our medical facilities are overwhelmed especially with mild cases or inquiries that do not require urgent or emergency response.

According to CEO, Dr. Wale Adeosun, in the first 12 hours after the platform was launched, it was visited 20,000 times and numbers have since surpassed 100,000 site visitors from over 20 countries.

Infodemics: An initiative of Dr. Nestor Inimgba, Infodemics’ platform is both an information disseminating and collection tool. According to Inimgba, the platform will help “cater for unconfirmed cases, cases in self isolation and those who request for a COVID 19 test” through the platform and in that way provide another useful database for the NCDC in monitoring how the virus is spreading across the country.

Infodemics is also providing useful health information at this time to the most vulnerable communities using existing social hierarchical systems. With the help of USSD, traditional broadcast media, field agents and volunteers, they are helping the NCDC disseminate accurate information about the virus especially to those at risk. At a time when we are prone to being misinformed as past health crisis situations like this have shown, accurate information reaching the right demographic is crucial.

MyServiceAgent by iQube Labs: iQube Labs has developed an AI-powered tool called MyServiceAgent which can communicate with 100s to 1,000s of callers simultaneously and intelligently. Working both ways, the tool disseminates information to the callers while collecting useful data to return back to the NCDC to further improve their handling of the pandemic. 

According to the team, the system will be able to take the burden of both real and ‘false alarm’ calls off the NCDC and pass on the data to them for swift action.

They have also made the service available in major Nigerian languages and round the clock. 

MyServiceAgent bot is disseminating accurate information to large swathes of people at a time.

CmapIT by CmapIT Software: The Cmapit software is a GIS and data visualization software that analyses and visualises geospatial data and its variables. 

More a learning tool but also an information tool to keep up to date with the numbers, the software “permits you to compare various datasets and  create a web map app in minutes” according to a member of the team. What else is all this downtime for if not to pick up some new knowledge?

COVID-19 Nigeria by Innover Technologies: COVID-19 Nigeria is an information platform seeking to collate accurate information about the virus from all authoritative sources and to translate them into other Nigerian languages as well as catchy infographics in order to reach more people.

COVID-19 Nigeria is providing information in the spread of the virus as well as personal safety guidelines in local Nigerian languages

Wella Health Driage by Wella Health: Wella Health’s triage bot is providing NCDC-approved guidelines as well as collecting user responses for the NCDC to better respond to the challenges of the pandemic. 

GloEpid by Prunedge: Prunedge develops efficiency-solving technology tools for various organisations using a range of technologies including data analytics, AI, and Internet of Things (IoT) systems and will be incorporating some of these in their product GloEpid, a monitoring and tracking tool targeted at helping the NCDC control and monitor the spread of the virus.

The tool, which is the brainchild of a not-for-profit Tech4Dev, features a Backward Contact Tracing and Identification System which will cross reference existing data from telecoms, immigration and other identity verification databases to trace and contact close associates and suspected carriers of confirmed/high cases; a GPS location detection; a multichannel notification system as well as self-assessment channels to help individuals assess their symptoms and know when to seek help.

In addition to the grant, workspace and support these companies will receive, they will be mentored by a host of business, technology and medical experts as they continue to build out these solutions and ready them for full adoption into the NCDC’s COVID-19 arsenal. The mentors include Titi Akinsanmi, Rebecca Enonchong, Dr. Ola Brown, Dr. Ifeany Nzofor who is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch, Dr. Femi Kuti, CEO, Reliance HMO, Iyin  Aboyeji, Dr. Iloba Dumebi, Consultant Urological Surgeon at the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State among many others. 

This initiative from Ventures Platform is one of many concerted efforts by private-led companies to make up for government efforts in battling the spread of the virus. CcHub has offered funding and support to companies working on COVID-19-related projects. Hotels.ng is partnering with hotels to convert their spaces into self-isolation centers. LifeBank is compiling a database of ventilators and respirators available in the country. Investor, Tomi Davies, is driving efforts to see the production of more of these equipment now in scarce quantities across the globe.

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