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Nigerian Health Startup, MDaaS Global Raises $2.3M Seed Extension

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Nigerian health startup, MDaaS Global announced the launch of a new health-tech product, SentinelX, and also closed a seed extension round of $2.3 million to scale across Nigeria.

MDaaS, an abbreviation for medical devices-as-a-service, started back in 2016. It operates a network of tech-enabled diagnostic centers across Nigeria. Two years ago, it raised a million-dollar seed round. And in addition to the other investments secured over the last five years, the health-tech startup has raised a total of $3.7 million.

The investors in the round include lead Newtown Partners, who invested via its Imperial Venture Fund, CRI Foundation, and return investors FINCA Ventures, Techstars, and Future Africa.

The idea for MDaaS came when co-founder and CEO Oluwasoga Oni was tasked alongside his classmates at an MIT class to develop an idea that could impact a billion lives. Coming from a medical background, he chose the one he could relate to.

“I wanted to solve the problem close to me and my dad in my early years. He had a 30-bed hospital and struggled so hard to find medical equipment that was good for him and also at a good rate,” he said to TechCrunch.

Oni started MDaaS with Opeyemi Ologun, Genevieve Barnard Oni, and Joseph McCord. With their connections in the U.S., the founders began connecting secondary medical equipment marketplace in the U.S. to Nigeria.

MDaaS diagnostic centers offer a wide range of services. First, there are imaging services such as digital x-ray and ultrasound, cardiac services such as ECG and echo. Then the lab services ranging from chemistry analysis and immunoassay to hematology.

Oni explained how did SentinelX come about, he said it was during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. As MDaaS helped out with testing for COVID in patients, it was also taking time to screen for underlying health conditions.

“We didn’t really find a lot of people that had COVID, but what we found was that a lot of people had underlying conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol that they didn’t know about. So we were really shocked about that.”

So far, MDaaS, the healthcare startup has provided diagnostic services to over 40,000 patients in underserved communities. It has also performed over 80,000 diagnostics tests across cardiology, radiology, neurology, laboratory, and general health checks. Over 750 clinicians use its referral network, and it has locked partnerships with more than 500 health facilities and 10 HMO networks.

Therefore, building SentinelX on the infrastructure already put in place serves as an opportunity to provide more customer-centric products for its users. The platform acts as a personalized care program where patients pay a one-time fee of N35k (~$70) and access a doctor all year round.

At the moment, users can run through a series of tests ranging from 60 or 70 biomarkers to assess individual risk for a wide range of diseases, including cancers, diabetes, kidney disease, and heart diseases. Clinical and family history and demographic data are also taken into consideration as part of the comprehensive analysis. Meanwhile, MDaaS creates a care plan unique to customers should they have health concerns after screening.

SentinelX is currently in private beta. However, the plan is to go live in September 2021. One would argue that $70 for a year might be cheap for this kind of service, Oni concurs but says it’s all about the long game for MDaaS.

“What we’re trying to solve is non-consumption. Most people in Nigeria don’t go for annual screening, which is something meant to be routinely done. Instead, what we tend to have in Nigeria is that people wait till they get sick before going for checkups. By that time, it costs so much money to solve the problem,” Oni echoes on the lackadaisical effort some Nigerians place on their health.

“We have had to get very creative in the way we build things because we target low to middle-income patients. As a result, we’ve needed to customize our diagnostic infrastructure, especially as it relates to costs for the people we serve,” Oni added.

The economic recession has also affected one of MDaaS’ most priced assets: doctors. Brain drain is a major challenge facing the Nigerian health system right now. It has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of Nigerian doctors who leave for a better quality of life and pay, with some reports estimating that over 2,000 doctors leave annually.

“When you hear about it in the news, it seems like a theoretical thing. But for us, it is real because we have staff leaving to go abroad,” the CEO remarked. MDaaS tries to approach the situation by training younger doctors and deploying them to its centers. Still, there’s some commitment play as both parties agree on a period of time the doctor would work with the company.

Per application of funds, MDaaS wants to scale its physical footprint across Nigeria by adding six more diagnostic centers this year. According to Oni, the health-tech startup wants to become one of Nigeria’s three largest diagnostic centers. The CEO also said MDaaS would consider a pan-African expansion to similar countries like Nigeria, although he gave no timeline. But by 2025, the company aims to operate 100 centers across the continent and serve a million patients per year.

Speaking on the news, the managing partner at Newtown Partners, Llew Claasen, said, “Most consumers in sub-Saharan Africa receive suboptimal medical care because of infrastructure gaps, low physician density, delays in diagnostics, and a lack of health data visibility. We think the physical diagnostic infrastructure that MDaaS is building out, coupled with the means to collect data and deliver value-added software services, has the potential to completely change the way that physicians, clinicians, and pharmacists do their jobs and lead to better health outcomes for a huge number of previously underserved consumers.”

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Fund Raising

Atomico Close to Landing Over $1 Billion for New Start-up Fund

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Sources in the industry report that Atomico, the venture capital firm based in London and set up by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, is about to announce a new start-up fund which is worth around $1.2 billion.

The investment company is close to raising what is referred to as an “early stage” fund of about $400 million, tailored to helping young start-ups. The information was provided to the CNBC by two venture capitalists, who required their identities to be concealed due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

These capitalists further mentioned that Atomico is developing a “late stage” fund of about $800 million, to support the more established start-ups that require larger amounts of capital to continue their growth. The CNBC received no response from Atomico when a request for comment was made.

The CNBC spoke to a third source, a start-up executive who also did not want to be named due to the nature of discussions. This source told the CNBC that Atomico had informed his own company that it was in the process of raising even more capital from limited partners.

Many other Venture Capitalist (VC) sources stated that they were unaware of any fundraising plans, but would not be surprised if Atomico announced a new fund anytime soon.

It however remains unclear how much more capital Atomico still needs to raise for both the early and late stage funds, and when these funds will be announced officially.

From its inception till date, Atomico – which has its headquarters in Mayfair – has raised five funds. The last fund which the company raised was worth $820 million, and was announced in February 2020.

In the past, Atomico has used its funds to support some of the world’s most valuable start-up companies. These companies include Stripe, Klarna, flying car start-up Lilium and AI (Artificial Intelligence) chip designer Graphcore.

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HouseAfrica, CARMA, Two Other African Blockchain Startups Receives $125K Funding From CV Labs

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Four African blockchain startups, HouseAfrica, CARMA, Mazzuma and Pravica have received $125,000 in Funding from CV Lab, these startups also qualify for a three-month CV Labs Global Incubation program and other CV VC-run initiatives.

CV VC  (Crypto Valley Venture Capital) is a Swiss Investment Company and an early-stage venture capital investor with a focus on startups that build on blockchain technology. CV Labs offers a three-month hybrid Blockchain incubation program that invests up to $125’000 in great startups in return for 10% equity and /or tokens

In July 2021, CV VC extends its operations into Africa setting up the company’s first office on the African continent in Cape Town. The company said, “CV VC’s goal in Africa, together with partners from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and local stakeholders, is to invest in 100 startups that have the potential to tackle the challenges of the African continent over the next four years. The SECO signed a special agreement with CV VC. The joint project aims to support the development of an independent ecosystem in South Africa by transferring know-how and experience from Swiss Crypto Valley to serve as a hub for Africa”.

The program, which also includes BlockFrauds (UK) and CO2DAO (Switzerland), recently kicked off with “Africa Week,” in which CV VC partner Binance Smart Chain, the University of Johannesburg, and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative collaborated with the innovators for a week in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The four Selected African Blockchain Startups are:

HouseAfrica (Nigeria) is a Blockchain Technology company building a digitized property record system that assists home buyers and financial institutions to access, verify authenticity and value properties before investing. Properties are accessed and sold by sharing site digital layout.

CARMA (Nigeria) is the world’s first P2P data marketplace company created to fill the credit-data gap in sub-Saharan Africa. Organizations are provided credit data which allows them to make data-driven business decisions.

Mazzuma (Ghana), “the Future of Online Payments” is a mobile payments system that specializes in the use of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to facilitate seamless payments transactions.

Cairo-based startup Pravica, is a unified, secure and privacy-compliant communication platform that uses blockchain technology to empower user privacy and security.

CV Labs has incubated 22 businesses throughout the world, the managing director of CV VC Africa, Gideon Greaves said he’s excited to see the collaboration with SECO to assist the establishment of an autonomous blockchain ecosystem in Africa to become reality.

“I’m incredibly excited to be a part of CV VC’s journey into Africa. Being a leapfrog population, we are in a prime position to adopt this disruptive technology and I believe this continent can lead the crypto and blockchain charge”. He said

“We are happy to start our Africa chapter with an initial foothold in South Africa, a thriving hub for entrepreneurs, developers and creatives and an already well-established startup and technology ecosystem. With the experience and know-how from Crypto Valley, including infrastructure providers, an enabling regulatory framework and our global network, we will be able to accelerate growth for blockchain startups and grow the blockchain ecosystem in all of Africa”, said Mathias Ruch, CEO and founder of CV VC.

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Nigerian e-Health Pharmaceutical Startup, DrugStoc, Lands $4.4 Million Funding

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DrugStoc

Nigerian Pharmaceutical Distribution startup DrugStoc has landed its own Series A funding to the tune of $4.4 million, according to TechCrunch

In Africa, the pharmaceutical supply chain has been fractured for decades. This has resulted in challenges in distribution and sourcing, as well as concerns about quality as fake and substandard products have begun to flood the market. The good news is however that these issues that are facing the pharmaceutical supply chain are fixable.

Chibuzo Opara and Adham Yehia who are highly familiar with the problems of poor pharmaceutical supply chains, are planning to spread the reach of DrugStoc. DrugStoc is an e-health drug acquisition platform that does its best to fight against these challenges by linking drug companies with health institutions such as hospitals and pharmacies across the country.

DrugStoc is presently on a highly vigorous expansion plan, which includes delivering standard quality pharmaceutical products to 100 million people, after recently securing the $4.4 million Series A funding.

The startup’s current plan is to expand into 16 states within the country as it seeks to move beyond Lagos, the economic hub of Nigeria. Asides this is its much bigger plan to expand beyond Nigeria into other markets within Africa.

The availability of high-quality, standard pharmaceutical products especially within the country will result in the prevention of thousands of potential deaths. These include loss of life which is linked to loss of blood during childbirth, or children losing the fight against diarrheal diseases.

TechCrunch reports that the company has stated that it currently serves about 14 million people.

The startup’s funding round was spearheaded by Africa HealthCare Master Fund (AAIC), with investments following from Chicago-based venture firm Vested World, German Development Bank (DEG) and individuals with high net worths who have strong interest in tech-health.

AAIC Director, Nobuhiko Ichimaya said that the Fund is “glad” to support a company which is now positioned to be an important player in the growth of the tech-health sector in Africa.

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