Kigali-based Norrsken partners Novartis to launch a healthtech challenge

RWANDA – The Kigali-based non-profit Norrsken has partnered the Novartis Foundation to build and launch what it says will be the leading hub and accelerator for e-health startups in East Africa.

Founded by Niklas Adalberth, one of the founders of Swedish fintech unicorn Klarna, in 2016, Norrsken aims to help entrepreneurs solve the world’s greatest challenges.

The impact and tech entrepreneurship support foundation launched operations in Kigali, Rwanda in 2019 as a base for investing across the East and Central African region.

Norrsken has already opened its Norrsken House co-working space in Kigali, and has now announced a partnership with the Novartis Foundation for a health-focused initiative that will incorporate space and accelerator, which will be located inside Norrsken House.

It is also launching the HealthTech Hub Challenge, a competition to find the 30 most promising healthtech startups in Kigali and East Africa.

Challenge prizes include a one-year subsidy to sit at the HealthTech Hub Africa and participation in the 2022 HealthTech Innovation Programme. The top three selected winners will also receive US$30,000, US$20,000 and US$5,000 respectively.

“We are so excited to be launching the HealthTech Hub challenge and hosting the HealthTech Hub Africa at the Norrsken Kigali House. It will be the first space where HealthTech startups can work together and collaborate, which will revolutionise the industry by cutting down the cost of care and democratising access to quality care in the region,” said Pascal Murasira, MD of Norrsken East Africa.

The challenge is open to startups with less than US$2 million in prior funding and with solutions with evidence of validation and positive impact in the domains of breast cancer, cardiovascular health and/or virtual care.

Norrsken’s initiative follows closely on a similar project undertaken by Villgro Africa in Rwanda’s neighboring country Kenya.

Villgro Africa partnered the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) to launch the Kenya Healthcare Innovation Programme which opens opportunity for all with the potential to improve optimal health outcomes or make healthcare more to present their ideas.

The program by KeNIA will award participants with the best solutions with cash prizes and access to other resources courtesy of the partnership with Villgro.

Villgro Africa will provide US$10,000 – US$5,000 for first place, US$3,000 for first runner-up and US$2,000 for second runner-up, while other startup resource providers will be invited to add to the awards.

Villgro, formerly known as Rural Innovations Network, is among India’s oldest social enterprise incubators with well-established roots in Kenya since 2017. Villgro funds, mentors and incubates early-stage, innovation-based social enterprises that impact communities.

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