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COVID-19:  7 start-ups get funding to curb spread

Seven start-ups, who are currently deploying solutions and platforms to mitigate the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, have received $3,000 support fund…

Seven start-ups, who are currently deploying solutions and platforms to mitigate the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, have received $3,000 support fund from the #COVID19 Innovation Challenge Virtual Demo Day.

The challenge was organised by Ventures Platform and supported by MTN, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC).

A statement by Ventures Platform Communication Lead, Joy Mabia, made available to newsmen on Friday, revealed that the seven start-ups received $3,000 each equity-free grant funding from Ventures Platform and its partners not $1,000 that was initially announced at the call for application.

According Mabia, the winning startups will also pitch their ideas to MTN staff serving as volunteer mentors and receive invaluable feedback on the required technical, business and functional skills to enhance their solutions before they are deployed in the fight to flatten the curve.

MTN Nigeria’s Chief Transformation Officer (CTRO), Olubayo Adekanmbi in his address, said: “We consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to lend our expertise and capabilities to the development of impactful innovations which can make a difference in curbing the spread of infection.

“We must all remain dedicated to bringing hope to our communities, especially in these times. Because there is only one way through this. Working together, with everyone doing what they can.”

Also speaking on the collaboration, the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, expressed gratitude to Ventures Platform, MTN, and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council for supporting in mobilizing innovative tech solutions to strengthen the national response to COVID-19 while stating that a whole-of-society approach is required to flatten the curve and enable gradual re-opening of the economy.

“These solutions would be integrated with existing technology deployed for surveillance, contact tracing, and risk communications activities,” he said.

In addition, Kola Aina, Ventures Platform founder, said: “We would like to especially acknowledge all our partners, especially MTN who joined VP, LASRIC, NCDC, and many others, in supporting these solutions to tackle COVID-19 in Africa.

“This is the time for more work and as we say in Africa, it takes a village – I am so grateful to our village for making this happen and we continue to call on more corporates to support these startups.”

One of the startups; GLOEPID will be powering the NCDC’s official bot tool for self-assessment and contact tracing. The official mobile application will soon be available on app stores.

Also, Wellvis Health’s COVID Triage will support NCDC in risk assessment. With their self-administered risk assessment tool, users will be able to assess their risk level for contacting COVID-19.

On its part, INFODEMICS, a risk communications platform that helps disseminate health information in times of pandemic, will support NCDC to monitor and debunk fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Infodemics, in collaboration with the NCDC, is launching a web page that enables users to report fake news and get reliable information. They will also aid in disseminating information about the pandemic to local remote communities in local languages.

MTN will also be working with three of the winning startups, providing funding and mentorship.