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Health Tech Startup 54gene Launches Trust to Amplify Africa’s Capacity in Scientific Research

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54gene Lab

54gene, the health technology company centered on advancing the field of African genomics to unlock scientific discoveries as well as improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes within Africa and the global community, is creating a trust which it will use to invest up to 5 percent of future proceeds from the company’s commercial drug discovery program.

The creation of the trust is part of its Commitment to Africa in establishing a more sustainable and thriving cyclical ecosystem across Africa’s scientific development space, as well as ensuring better quality healthcare delivery for the communities in which the company operates.

54gene is focused on creating a pipeline of novel drugs for global populations, based on insights drawn from the healthcare and research ecosystem in Africa and wants to ensure that the 1.5 billion people in Africa benefit from its endeavors.

While ensuring Ethical, Legal, Social Implication (ELSI) guidelines are rigorously followed, 54gene is focused on advancing better health outcomes for global populations through precision medicine and addressing the unmet need for novel therapeutics in healthcare.

The company has created a proprietary platform that powers drug discovery through its substantial bio- and data-repository of deeply phenotyped and diverse datasets. It has the potential to power understanding across multiple disease areas such as cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, sickle cell, autoimmune and rare diseases, and infectious diseases.

The new trust has been designed to enable a consistent provision of better diagnostics and medicines for Africans as well as amplifying capacity building within the scientific research space across Africa.

“The biggest challenge in drug discovery in Africa is adequate infrastructure and the extensive need for capacity building.

“As we work on delivering on our promise of precision medicine for Africans and the global population, we are striving to ensure that our work involves current African scientists and leaders in the field as well as supports the creation of more skilled Africans in science and additional jobs across the continent.

“This initiative is designed to continue fostering partnerships within the African scientific body, to reflect the leadership of Africans in global drug discovery research, and to generate sustainable healthcare delivery systems that will ultimately benefit African communities participating in the scientific work that advances better outcomes for all.

It is the inclusion of African talent that will make our drug discovery work successful in bridging the disparity gap within genomics data. Africa has the ability to contribute far beyond the 1 percent in global drug discovery that is currently taking place within the continent, and we believe 54gene will help accelerate those contributions.“

The 54gene trust will be managed by an advisory committee. As the company’s commercial operations grow, the demonstrated Commitment to Africa and creation of the trust will ensure an African footprint and sustainable growth in global drug discovery across the continent.

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French Government Commits Additional $150M Funding for 500 African Tech Startups

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Digital Africa Initiatives-Investors King

French President Emmanuel Macron has made a new EUR130 million (US$150 million) commitment to support 500 African startups as part of redefining the Digital Africa Initiative.

Launched in 2018 with the mission to equip African tech entrepreneurs with capabilities to design and scale-up ground-breaking innovations for the real economy, Digital Africa brings together startups, academia, incubators, institutional financiers, venture capitalists and technology clusters to help develop the African startup space.

President Macron’s renewed financial commitment of EUR130 million was made at the New Africa-France Summit last week and said it covers the next three years. He further affirmed that Digital Africa is now part of Proparco, the private sector subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

At the event, Digital Africa also unveiled a host of new programmes. In terms of financing, it announced the Fuzé project, which focuses on Francophone Africa and aims to support at least 200 tech startups by early 2022 via a new small ticket fund. This will provide, in stages, funds of between EUR10,000 (US$12,000) to EUR200,000 (US$230,000) in the form of repayable loans.

In terms of skills, Digital Africa has joined forces with Make IT and the German government to set up Talent4StartUps, a fellowship programme designed to meet the needs of talents that have been trained in tech and digital, and put them in touch with startups actively recruiting.

More broadly, Digital Africa will continue to develop non-financial activities such as knowledge production, training, networking, research, and support for the evolution of regulatory frameworks, while having the opportunity to raise funds from other public or private donors. This will be enabled by its new status as a subsidiary of Proparco.

“Digital Africa’s new organisation, redefined with our partners, allows us to reinforce our commitment to “made in Africa” tech innovations and become a factory for future African unicorns. Startups need a one-stop-shop combining training, research, project-structuring, support to pro-tech and pro-innovation reforms, and financing,” said Digital Africa’s chief executive officer (CEO) Stéphan-Eloise Gras.

“From now on, thanks to the merger with Proparco, they will find in Digital Africa a partner capable of offering them support from ideation and seed to growth and hypergrowth. By putting tech at the service of transparency and efficiency in development aid, and by getting closer to the private sector, Digital Africa wants to make a long-lasting difference.”

The Digital Africa team is now preparing a roadshow that will take place at the end of this quarter and will stop in several African regions to strengthen connections with key partners and players, promote the programmes, and invite African startups to apply. These field trips will also be an opportunity to finalise new projects, including the “product-market fit academy” designed to improve the suitability of tech solutions for local markets, to be launched in 2022.

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Youverify, OnePort, 14 Other African Startups Named Finalists For 2021 VC4A Venture Showcase

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Start-up - Investors King

Two Nigerian startups, Youverify a digital identity service and OnePort a freight management platform, have been named with other 14 African startups as finalists for the VC4A Venture Showcase.

At the VC4A Venture Showcase finals, 16 seed and series A level African tech startup will pitch their businesses to potential funders at the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit next month.

Since 2017, the VC4A Venture Showcase has helped startup founders showcase their businesses to investors during the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit, a signature industry event organised by VC4A and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN).

This year’s event will take place on the 4th and 5th of November, and will feature the showcase, which will be divided into two tracks – seed and Series A.

The seed startups, seeking funding rounds that range between US$400,000 and US$8 million, are Mozambique-based logistics startup Appload, Kenyan loyalty app CashBackApp, Kenyan fintech FlexPay, Ivory Coast-based transport Moja Ride, Nigerian freight management platform OnePort, Madagascan ed-tech service Sayna, Egyptian logistics startup ShipBlu, and Ghanaian fintech Waya.

The Series A startups, which are aiming to raise between US$1.5 million and US$10 million, are Botswana-based insurtech startup Alpha Direct, Kenyan ed-tech platform Arifu, Moroccan e-commerce app Chari, Ivory Coast-based payment aggregator Cinetpay, Moroccan logistics service CloudFret, Egyptian B2B super app Fatura, Egyptian e-health startup Rology, and Nigerian digital identity service Youverify.

Over the next six weeks, the selected startups will participate in a virtual investor readiness programme, including workshops by renowned African VC investors, office hours with domain experts, guest speaker sessions, and opportunities to interact with and learn from mentors, peers, and partners. They will also be linked to top VC investors for one-on-one mentorship.

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50 Percent Of Global Tech Unicorns Are in the U.S

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The United States of America is presently home to 50 percent of the world’s tech Unicorns, privately held startup companies worth over $1 billion, according to a report by GlobalData.

The report showed as of August 31, 2021, there were 751 tech unicorns in the world, out of which 379 with a combined valuation of $1.3 trillion are headquartered in the United States.

Most of these unicorns are those operating within the cloud, fintech, healthtech, big data and cybersecurity fields, the report noted. “In fact, 70% of cloud unicorns are based in the country, as well as 46% of fintech unicorns and 68% of healthtech unicorns”,  stated Priya Toppo, Analyst for the Thematic Team at GlobalData.

US tech unicorns emerged even stronger following the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the slowdown experienced in the first half of 2020 when just 22 new unicorn startups were created. The number rose about 600 percent to 136 in the first half of 2021.

Toppo further explained that “Stripe is the most valuable tech unicorn in the US, with a valuation of $95bn, followed by SpaceX ($74bn) and Instacart ($39bn).

“California has emerged as the ‘land of tech unicorns’ in the US. It hosts 205 of the 379 tech unicorns in the Americas, followed by New York (64) and Massachusetts (17).”

“While GlobalData expects the tech unicorn club in the US to grow further, it also expects at least 35 unicorns from the US to exit the unicorn club (going public, either through IPO or M&A) in the next two years. The biggest companies that are anticipated to list on the public market are Instacart, Stripe, Chime, Ripple and Databricks.”

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