Thursday, June 15, 2023

Vintage Health Technologies combines Artificial Intelligence (AI) with real-world experience to boost the Nigerian health system

 Nigeria’s health system is getting a major boost from Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology through a new international health partnership. 

Vantage Health Technologies, an international health technology provider – part of the BroadReach Group - is teaming up with Nigeria’s Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), a public health and development non-profit organisation.

NHED harnesses the power of AI and long-term in-country contextual expertise in health advocacy to build strong governance and health systems across Nigeria’s public health system.

 “Our combined experience, local knowledge and relationships with the government of Nigeria enable us to offer high impact technical assistance and best-in-class, AI-driven, technology-enabled solutions," says Dr Emmanuel Sokpo, Managing Director of NHED.

"Our expertise and solutions bring about organisational change, improved performance, and better program, population, and individual health outcomes. We are excited to see the impact that this joint effort will make in Nigeria – not only for health administrators and caregivers, but most importantly their patients, the people of Nigeria.”

The Nigeria health system is overburdened and resource-constrained resulting in poor health outcomes. Nigeria experiences a high prevalence of HIV, TB, and Malaria, ranking fourth worldwide in terms of HIV burden, accounting for 35% of cases in East and West Africa.

Additionally, Nigeria ranks sixth globally in contributing to TB cases, comprising 4% of total TB cases worldwide. Moreover, Nigeria faces the highest malaria burden globally, with an estimated 51 million cases annually, representing approximately 30% of Africa's total malaria burden.

To address these challenges, the partnership between NHED and Vantage plays a crucial role in providing the necessary support to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system, its managers, and workforce within the available resources.

Vantage’s AI-powered solutions specifically help health organisations achieve cost and operational efficiencies, improved organisational performance and better health outcomes through “next best action” workflows to empower healthcare workers at all levels with deep experience in HIV, TB, malaria and other related diseases treatment and care.

NHED, in turn, specialises in delivering high-impact public health advocacy, governance and primary health system interventions across the continent. Specifically, within Nigeria, they have driven successful interventions across nutrition and primary healthcare programmes.

“Together, we’ll bring new efficiencies into the Nigerian public health system, to overcome challenges in health service delivery, workforce empowerment, patient retention, data interoperability, health information management and data-driven leadership,” says Paul Bhuhi, Managing Director of Vantage Health Technologies.

“Vantage offers proven AI-driven, data-centric, technology-enabled solutions and innovation that empowers human action. Our goal is to enable public health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. We believe this is possible in Nigeria too.

Through our health systems approach, this partnership and its unique combination AI-enabled technology, deep contextual knowledge and expertise in health leadership and governance, can help address healthcare system challenges with speed and agility,” says Bhuhi.

To introduce this powerful partnership, a round table event on “Technology enabled Health Systems Strengthening” is being co-hosted by the partnership on 20 July in Abuja, for high-level government, donor and private sector health stakeholders.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Kenya Tea Development Agency brews perfect technology mix

Over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers affiliated to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are reaping the harvest of a technological rollout that has streamlined the operations of their factories, making the tea business more efficient and technology driven.

The deployment of SAP by KTDA and its managed factories has provided analytical tools that are used for better decision making while making payment for farmers’ green leaf efficient and quick. 

It has also drastically improved payment processing and enhanced end-to-end visibility for better controls and safeguards.

“We wanted a solution to bring all our factories into a single system that would improve every aspect of our operations, from production planning and quality management to sales, distribution and payroll,” says KTDA CEO Wilson Muthaura.

More than 600,000 farmers paid every month for green leaf are suppliers to KTDA as well as over 10,000 employees working across the organisation. 

However, following this rollout, all farmers are now paid through the SAP system, reducing processing time by more than 80 per cent, said Muthaura.

KTDA Holdings Ltd is a wholly owned farmers company which has invested in various subsidiary companies along the tea value chain in Kenya. 

Through the KTDA Management Services company, the operations on 71 factories are seamlessly managed and SAP has come in handy in enhancing operational efficiencies with the aim of increasing transparency and profitability in the businesses.

The Agency has seven subsidiaries and a Foundation providing specialised services across the tea value chain, including factory management, engineering, insurance, tea trading and warehousing, credit provision and power production.

In late 2021, KTDA revised its monthly green leaf payment timelines to the first week of the following month. Payments for deliveries had previously been made on the third week of the following month. 

The change, aided by efficient payment processing through SAP, translated to faster access of farmers’ cash to meet their daily needs and align the payment to farmers’ monthly obligations.

The system also allows the Agency to easily incorporate other items like loans and inputs (like fertilizer) issued to the payment process allowing for easy and seamless recoveries.

Martin Mwarangu, Group General Manager for ICT Services at KTDA, says: “We worked with experienced SAP partner, OneConnect Technologies, to implement SAP ERP Central Component and Business Intelligence, covering end-to-end processes across KDTA's operations.”

System unlocks benefits across value chain

Besides payment processing, different modules of SAP have delivered multiple benefits including production planning and management and a full visibility of tea sales.

“SAP has digitally transformed the KTDA business and made it technologically ready to adopt any future solutions that would further enhance business efficiencies. The wealth of data generated is important in decision making and forecasting,” says KTDA Management Services Managing Director Julius Onguso.

Plant maintenance has also been enhanced with a solution that ensures proper maintenance and provides greater visibility over costs associated with equipment. 

In addition, all transactions are now updated to general ledgers and relevant cost/profit centres in real time, giving the finance team full visibility over the organisation’s operations.

The Agency has also rolled out a sales and distribution module that allows all tea selling processes to be done on one system; from raising sales orders; tea dispatch and revenue management.

The SAP solution generates a wealth of data and has embedded business analytical tools that generate reports and dashboards extensively used by decision makers to glean insights and make better decisions for the business.

Thirty-two KTDA-managed factories are currently running on the SAP solution, making reporting and intercompany integration easier. The deployment of SAP also means there is a uniformity and consistency in how each of the factories are run. The Agency is working to have all other factories deploy the solution for group-wide benefit.

Hardeep Sound, Regional Sales Director for East Africa at SAP, adds: “Facing inefficiency and a lack of visibility over critical business processes, KTDA embraced the benefits of the latest technology to completely transform their end-to-end business functions. 

As KTDA continues to play a vital role in in the broader Kenyan economy as well as directly in the lives of more than smallholder farmers, having real-time visibility over the entire organisation’s processes will bring vast improvements to its operations benefitting all stakeholders.”

Monday, April 24, 2023

South Korea K-Startup Global Accelerator Program Invites Applications from Tech Startups

The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), South Korea's largest accelerator program, has opened applications for its 2023 edition. 

Overseen by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, KSGC is accepting startup applications from April 10 to May 18, 2023. 

The program aims to assist foreign startups looking to enter the Korean market and explore business opportunities in Asia. The 2023 edition of the accelerator, running from July 25 to November 10, will focus on deep tech startups.

Lim Jungwook, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups said, “It is a great pleasure to experience the gradual increase in the level and quality of startups applying to the K-Startup Grand Challenge program every year." 

This year, through the Follow-up program after Demoday, KSGC 2023 offers further support to the Top 20 teams, including commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) project with Korean companies for approximately 8 teams with a maximum funding of $25,000, which will help startups take their innovative ideas to the next level. 

"I encourage global startups to join K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 and be a part of this innovative journey," he said.

The program will select 60 startups that are less than seven years old, whose representatives hold foreign nationalities and wish to establish an innovative technology business in Korea. Startups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or specific plans to relocate their headquarters or establish a company in Korea will be given preference.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge program evaluates startups and pre-startups through a two-step process (document evaluation and global audition evaluation) including criteria such as problem recognition, feasibility and differentiation, expansion plan, and team. 

The application period is from April 10 to May 18, 2023, and the program excludes startups that copy or steal others' ideas or violate contracts.

The 2023 edition is designed for startups operating in deep tech, focused on eight sectors: e-Commerce & Retail, ESG & Green Tech, Food Tech & Agri Tech, Healthcare & Bio, IT & Software, Mobility & Robotics, Manufacturing & IoT, Metaverse & Media.

What can startups expect at KSGC 2023

International startups participating in KSGC 2023 can expect several benefits including commercialization support through mentorship from Korean startup experts and accelerators, assistance with fitting their business model more closely in the Korean market, participation in meetups, and consultation and seminars related to commercialization, contract, tax, law, and policies related to doing business in Korea.

Secondly, they will receive settlement support, including administrative assistance related to incorporation, visas, and living arrangements. The program will help obtain a Business Startup Visa (D-10-2) and open bank accounts.

Thirdly, startups will have opportunities to meet Korean companies and investors through business meetings and events organized throughout the program.

Fourthly, startups will be provided with office space in Pangyo Techno Valley, easily accessible by public transportation. A Korean intern, fluent in English and Korean, will help the startups in their Korean operations.

Fifthly, each startup in the program will receive financial benefits, including settlement funds to cover living expenses over the 15-week program period ($10,840 per team). 

The final Demo Day in November 2023 will select five promising startups for grand prizes. On the final Demo Day, prizes worth approximately $270,000 will be awarded to the top five startups.

The top 20 startups from the program will receive additional follow-up support, including a 15-week paid extension in Korea from December 1, 2023, to March 29, 2024. These startups will receive all support, including issuing a business startup visa, networking opportunities, office space, finding interns, etc. 

The selected startups will also be subject to follow-up financial support of $10,840 only. Additionally, eight startup teams will have the opportunity to get further assistance of $25,000 and support with commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) with Korean companies.

Successful KSGC Alumni

In 2022, KSGC attracted 2,653 teams from 122 countries worldwide, recording the highest-ever
competition rate of 52:1. 51 startup teams were selected through screening and auditions for the final 15-week program. German food tech startup Koralo won the coveted ‘2022 K-Startup Grand Challenge' as the best foreign startup team at the Demo Day.

"We believe that Korea has excellent technology as well as opportunities. It takes work to enter the Korean market. But in the end, if you have the right business partner, if you connect to the Korean ecosystem, and you enlarge that network and add some value to them and also show that you are interested in staying in Korea long term, then people are super excited to work together," said Sina Albanese, co-founder of Koralo.

In the past, global startups participating in the KSGC program have had definite success in the Asian market. Since 2016, 360 teams from 168 countries have participated in KSGC, and 167 Korean subsidiaries have been established. 

Bear Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup founded by ex-googlers, participated in KSGC 2017 and is now revolutionizing self-driving serving robots tailored for Korean cuisine internationally. The startup has attracted over $100 million in investments since 2017, with an $81 million Series B round in 2022.