The first cohort of Fuel Africa came to a successful close as over 1,200 students and alumni across 12 universities and 7 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa created 84 innovative healthcare solutions leveraging data and technology. The program was launched by Futurize in partnership with AstraZeneca through the A.Catalyst Network, and Microsoft. 

The eight-day program fostered multi-disciplinary collaboration among cross-cultural teams to ideate business solutions for healthcare’s greatest challenges across the continent. “We empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to take the future into their own hands and give universities and their students a platform to launch impactful startups. Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with 60% of its current population under 25 years old – this means there is tremendous potential for entrepreneurs building successful ventures for economic growth. We are excited to initiate this innovation program to contribute to training entrepreneurs while developing resilient healthcare solutions in the coming years,” says Moritz Gripp, Chief Operating Officer at Futurize. 

To increase their industry knowledge and vocational skills, participants had access to over 30 hours of curated learning resources including masterclasses, workshops, and mentorship. The top three teams were chosen at the virtual demo day where they pitched their idea to an esteemed panel of judges and were awarded pre-seed funding and mentorship to continue building their solutions. 

Innovation Ecosystem 

Fuel Africa 2022 was a great success due to Futurize’s industry partners which offered professional, financial and mentorship support to build impactful solutions.

“It was such a delight to be a judge on Demo Day and help to choose these incredible winner initiatives born from the creative and innovative minds of Africa’s future entrepreneurs. Through A.Catalyst Network, AstraZeneca works with and provides support to start-up companies and technology partners, providing mentoring, advice, and incubator/accelerator models to help them bring their ideas to life. If the young alumni that were part of the program want bring their ideas to live, AstraZeneca will help by mobilizing our network of partners that can contribute with expertise and experience”, says Alex Bedenkov, VP, Global Evidence, BioPharmaceuticals Medical & Global Health Innovation Hubs (A.Catalyst) Network Head, AstraZeneca.

“Microsoft, through the Africa Transformation Office, is intent on empowering the digital skilling journeys of our youth. It was exhilarating to see the ingenuity and innovation on display as these talented students developed solutions that address pressing real-life healthcare needs across the continent. Technology is a critical enabler for future-focused solutions for Africa, and Microsoft is a committed partner in this journey,” says Yacine Barro Bourgault, Skilling Lead, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office.

The program is co-funded by Bristol Myers Squibb and Famfa Oil Limited. “In future programmes, we hope to see solutions that will work with institutions to uplift education and medicals on the continent,” says Mr. Rotimi Alakija, Famfa Oil Limited. The program was also supported by Rand Merchant Bank/First National Bank.  

The Winning Teams

First place went to a team from the University of Cape Town, which developed the concept for iSwekile, a platform to ensure optimal care of insulin-dependent diabetic patients in South Africa through mobile technology.

The second runner up was a team from the University of Nairobi and African Leadership Universities, which built a prototype for Vectorgram, an online platform powered by a Deep Neural Network that would tackle shortages in radiologists within underserved Kenyan communities by providing AI-assisted Breast Cancer Diagnosis. 

In third place, Healthbloc consisted of a team of University of Ibadan and JFK Institute of Technology students that leveraged a blockchain solution to combat the distribution of fake drugs in Nigeria at each stage of the supply chain, from manufacturers to patients. 

An additional prize was given to MyBreastCare for developing the best app using Microsoft PowerApps. Their eclectic team of students from multiple universities in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon, developed a prototype for an app to sensitize adolescent girls and young women in Nigeria on breast cancer for early detection. 

Fuel Africa 2023 and Futurize

In a short time, participants honed their teamwork and technical skills, refined their professional profile for workplace readiness, and built an extensive network of like-minded entrepreneurs across Africa.  They were guided by industry professionals, and created an impactful startup idea that advances the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Fuel Africa is launched by Futurize, an innovation studio that designs programs to bring universities and businesses together to enable the next generation of entrepreneurs to collaborate, learn and build impactful solutions. Since their launch, they have engaged over 40 universities and 3,000 young entrepreneurs globally to fuel innovation for a sustainable future. Get in touch if you would like to support the Fuel Africa teams or design your own innovative programs: 

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