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Recap: Leading Ministers, Investors and Innovators Explore ‘New Horizons for Investing in Innovations for Global Health and Resilient Health Systems’


The Health Innovation Exchange (HIEx) held the ‘New Horizons for Investing in Innovations for Global health and Resilient Health Systems’ on November 30th, 2021, to convene investors, innovators and leaders to discuss the importance of leveraging innovations and investments to build resilient health systems. Hosted on the margins of the special session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on pandemic preparedness, the dialogue allowed policymakers to exchange with leading investors and innovators on how to develop innovative models of funding and ecosystem building for scaling access to healthcare and connect financing partnerships to the essential innovations.

Roland Göhde, Chair of the Board at the German Health Alliance (GHA) spoke on the need for new and innovative SDG-inspired partnerships between key stakeholders and set the context for the Fireside Chat around the theme of ‘The importance of innovation for pandemic preparedness’.

“Building resilient health systems need investments and innovative ways of doing things. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how to use innovation to build our health systems,” said H.E. Dr Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. She shared important lessons learnt by Ethiopia in pandemic preparedness and response during the Ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks. H.E. Dr Tadesse shed light on the integral role of innovations through key pillars of response such as surveillance systems, using technology to train the frontline workforce, investing and improving capacities of existing healthcare facilities, using innovative platforms to reach communities, and fostering collaboration between the private sector and ministries to support healthcare service delivery.

H.E. Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health & Sanitation, Sierra Leone, noted how innovations allowed them to track COVID-19 cases, monitor case clusters and deploy appropriate healthcare response services. He highlighted the importance of building an institutional structure that can harness key components of healthcare including technology, research capability, innovation and vaccine in Sierra Leone. ”Surveillance, treatment, vaccine, supply chain & tracking innovations are all opportunities to create a really sustainable health system for a country to able to prepare & respond appropriately,”, H.E. Dr Demby added.

While many countries may not be on track to achieve SDG3 goals, Dr Peter Singer, Special Adviser to the Director General, World Health Organization (WHO), highlighted the potential of innovations in accelerating SDG3 progress. To lower barriers of scale for innovations, he suggested developing a deep understanding of the key problems of countries and communities at hand.

From the investor side, David Wallerstein echoed the need to focus on understanding the problem at the country-level to scale efficiently. The Chief Exploration Officer of Tencent suggested the development of a mechanism where decision-makers and ministries can input crucial information about top healthcare priorities and have processes that can engage innovations to address them. Adding to that, Joe Stringer, Managing Partner at TenX/Octopus Fund advised health innovation businesses to shift their focus to the places they want to scale at rather than places they are headquartered at to make meaningful impact and address unmet needs.

Dr Annie Theriault, Managing Partner, Cross-Border Impact Ventures also suggested focusing effort on making the process of entering new markets and economies easier for innovators and funders alike to make scaling more efficient and rewarding.

Key Announcements and Partnerships

The event also provided space to announce new initiatives and partnerships that will form key pieces of the future health innovation ecosystem, have a potential to work with countries to improve their health outcomes, and strengthen the HIEx partnership network. Below are some key highlights:

  • Health Innovation Exchange - HIEx & Tata Consultancy Services to partner on a Specialized and Proficient Integrated Network of Experts (SPINE) for health & wellbeing to leverage innovations & develop solutions for scaling access to healthcare by leveraging expertise across sectors globally.

  • HIEx to partner with Health In Your Hands. The partnership will bring together the respective health innovation pipelines of HIEx and Health in Your Hands to facilitate effective collaboration across innovators for scale and impact.

  • StartupBlink and HIEx launched The 'Coronavirus Resilience Innovation Map' - a dynamic global mapping of health innovations that have helped reboot health systems in the wake of health crises. Check it out now:

  • The Global Health Security Fund was announced to support & scale promising health innovations to fight health security threats and break down the barriers to investing in health security.

  • Cross-Border Impact Ventures is an emerging women-led investment management firm launching its inaugural fund to capitalize on unique opportunities in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. The Fund was launched on December 7th, 2021.

  • Baraka Impact Finance has developed an intelligence dashboard that will support driving investor decision making & value proposition by providing key contextual information & data points.

Innovation Showcase

The event showcased the integral role of innovations in the futureproofing of health systems through practical examples and gave an opportunity to innovators to give an insight into their solutions. The diverse innovations that address key challenges of healthcare included:

  • Proximie: It is a digital health solution that supports on-ground clinical teams by virtually connecting them to doctors and surgeons from different parts of the world. Proximie also improves access to clinical expertise at health points closer to the patients

  • Blackfrog Technologies: It has a safe last-mile solution for the efficient transport of medical essentials such as vaccines and medications. The solution helps retain the efficacy of vaccines, ensuring they reach a wider population.

  • RigiTech: Leveraging drone-based technology, they are making door-to-door delivery of healthcare essential possible. These long-range drones are enabled to be operated and produced locally to improve uptake and scale of the innovation.

  • Molbio Diagnostics: It offers molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases at the point of care. Through different variants of the innovation, it enhances the capacity of primary health facilities to conduct rapid and effective diagnosis.

  • BIOVITAE: It is an innovative LED lighting technology that sanitizes environments without sterilization. It is a safe, simple and scalable solution to make public places safe and fight infective viruses.

  • Dure Technologies: Their iMonitor+ platform provides an enabling environment bringing together stakeholders such as patient communities, civil society organizations, donors, national programs to make health systems more responsive. It has been used for HIV and COVID-19 last-mile support and fostered direct community engagement with healthcare delivery systems.

IRounding Up

A connecting theme throughout the event was the underlying role of HIEx as a platform fostering private-public partnerships to scale health innovations to improve access to healthcare and make meaningful impact. Dr Peter Singer also noted that “Multi-lateral platforms can be mechanisms to systemically tap into country demand, deepen innovations and help them spread from country to country.”

Dr Katherine Tatarinov, Managing Director at Geneva Innovation Movement Association (GIM) highlighted the importance of ecosystems in fostering and scaling innovations. She emphasized that innovations cannot be developed in isolation but are nourished through inspiring communication and connection among all actors of the health innovation ecosystem as well as enabling local champions to bring their innovations to scale.

Watch the full event by clicking here.