Envisionit Deep AI®, a South African health-tech startup, has raised $ 1.65 million from New GX Ventures SA with an additional undisclosed raise from the GIIG Africa Fund.
The combined investment will be used to unlock the company’s next phase of growth, as it aims to address critical shortages in the African and emerging market healthcare sector and democratize access to diagnostic imaging using artificial intelligence (AI).
Founded in 2019 by Dr Jaishree Naidoo, Andrei Migatchev and Terence Naidu – Envisionit Deep AI® builds innovative medical solutions that harness the power of AI to transform how healthcare professionals diagnose and treat patients.
Through solutions such as its RADIFY AI technology, the company is improving the speed, accuracy, quality and affordability of medical imaging diagnosis, which is crucial in the early detection and treatment of various diseases including tuberculosis, coronavirus pneumonia and breast cancer, among others.
In doing so, Envisionit Deep AI® is helping to solve critical staffing and resource shortages mainly in public healthcare systems and under-serviced communities across Africa, where investment into the sector is amongst the lowest globally.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while Africa carries 25% of the world’s disease burden, its share of health expenditure is less than 1%.
This negatively impacts the ability of health workers to fulfil their duties while also making it more difficult to retain skilled workers, provide essential services, and prevent deaths from treatable diseases.
As such, while Africa may be home to 1.2 billion people, the continent on average hosts only one physician per 10,000 people. Africa’s overburdened healthcare system leaves more than 50% of the population without access to the healthcare services they need.
“Our mission is to change that,” explains Dr Naidoo. “There is a huge demand for healthcare services in Africa, particularly in the field of medical diagnostics. In 2022 alone, we screened and triaged 64,351 patients, including 44,529 cases of pneumonia, 1,635 cases of tuberculosis, and a further 127,151 pathologies. However, this is just scratching the surface – the current system just isn’t able to address the massive need and demand.”
Dr. Naidoo continues, saying that: “As a clinician and CEO, I’ve seen firsthand how innovation presents a positive-sum scenario, where advanced technology makes it easier for doctors to provide quality care at scale, offers deeper insights into how to better treat patients, and in the long run, improves the feasibility of both healthcare facilities and the systems they operate in. With demand for healthcare services only set to increase, now is the time for decision-makers to look to how technology can help them address the needs of today and better prepare for those of tomorrow.”
New GX Ventures SA is a joint venture between New GX Capital, the Pitje Family’s investment vehicle, and RMB Ventures that aims to support African entrepreneurs with the potential to build globally-relevant and scalable businesses. To date, the organisation has invested R420-million of the available R1.2-billion earmarked for partnership.
The investment by New GX Ventures SA into Envisionit Deep AI® follows the startup being named the ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Southern Africa regional finale of the African Startup Awards – the largest independent startup ecosystem competition on the continent. In doing so, the company secured an additional undisclosed amount in seed funding from the GIIG Africa Fund, the exclusive investment partner to the African Startup Awards, with the mission to find, fund and scale solutions with the potential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.
According to Khudusela Pitje, the Founder of New GX Ventures SA, these investments will play an integral role in Envisionit Deep AI®’s next stage of growth by financing research and development into new solutions for early diagnosis in the medical field.
At the same time, they will support the company’s efforts to widen its reach in the African market, ahead of securing Conformite Europeenne (CE) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization to expand into Europe and the United States.
Adding to this, Dr. Naidoo says that: “In South Africa, are focusing specifically on introducing our solutions to the mining sector, where workers have historically been at a higher risk for contracting tuberculosis, due to the concentration of people in workplaces and the incidence of silicosis. We’re looking to partner with mine operators to expand and enhance their screening capabilities and improve the well-being of their employees.”
Commenting on their investment into Envisionit Deep AI®, Co-Founder of the GIIG Africa Fund, Jo Griffiths, says: “Access to quality healthcare is recognized as a universal human right, but this remains out of reach for millions of Africans across the continent. Solutions like RADIFY AI have shown not only their market value, but their human value too, offering the potential to improve both the well-being of Africans and the industry as a whole. To this end, we’re looking forward to working with the Envisionit team, as they scale their solutions to the world.”
In an effort to support health-tech startups across the continent, Griffiths adds that applications to the next round of the African Startup Awards are now open, with innovators from across the continent encouraged to apply before 26 February 2023, for their chance to receive funding from the GIIG Africa Fund. Existing applications can be finalised on or before the 5th of March.
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