2015 BIO International Convention: Sub-Saharan Africa Pavilion

November 30 2016

Sub-Saharan Africa Pavilion Exhibitors


Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR)

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), a semi-autonomous institute of the University of Ghana, is the leading biomedical research facility in Ghana. NMIMR is committed to research on national health priorities and training of biomedical scientists and has been named the ANDI Centre of Excellence in Disease Surveillance and Prevention. NMIMR was established jointly by the University of Ghana Medical School, the Fukushima Medical School in Japan, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  NMIMR’s core focus is on infectious and non-communicable diseases that predominate in the tropics including Buruli ulcer, malaria, and other parasitic diseases.

Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR)

KCCR is an interdisciplinary research center that develops molecular tools to advance biomedical, agricultural, and ecological sciences for Ghana and the international community. KCCR has a vibrant research environment capable of attracting quality research projects and turning out the next generation of researchers. KCCR maintains close collaborations with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana, and the Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) in Hamburg, Germany. It was named the ANDI Centre of Excellence for Applied Biomedical Research. KCCR has a substantial focus on infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and lymphatic filariasis, and on non-communicable diseases.


Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)

KEMRI is a state corporation established as the national body responsible for carrying out health research in Kenya. In its commitment to addressing significant health challenges, KEMRI has consolidated its research activities into six main programs: communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, public health and health systems, biotechnology, natural products, and sexually transmitted diseases. Its mandates include, among others, to liaise with relevant bodies within and outside Kenya to carry out research.

Villgro Kenya

Replicating Villgro, India’s largest social enterprise incubator, Villgro Kenya hopes to inspire a new wave of innovative thinking to solve some of Kenya’s specific health ecosystem challenges. Villgro Kenya coaches and immerses incoming entrepreneurs on business model best practices while sharpening their innovative ideas.  Villgro Kenya also creates opportunities for increased collaboration around a broad stakeholder network and builds partnerships between health professionals and entrepreneurs, the private sector, NGOs, academic institutions, and governments.



BioSeanergy is a specialist in the management and development of marine resources and agro-food products, and a link between fundamental research and industry. BioSeanergy provides expertise in R&D, auditing, consulting, structuring, coaching, and project management support to companies looking to develop and optimize their impact in the marine and agro-food clusters.


Biosphere is a quality, world-wide supplier of non-human primate models for both biomedical researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Biosphere provides full health records, breeding history, and documentation of its primates. Its unique quarantine procedures ensure established breeding groups and feral animals are free of herpes B virus, SRV, SIV, SLTV and TB. Biosphere also supplies primate biological materials including sera, plasma, tissues, and organs.

Board of Investment, Mauritius

The Board of Investment (BOI) is the national promotion agency of the Government of Mauritius with the mandate to promote and facilitate investment in the country. It is the first point of contact for investors exploring investment opportunities in Mauritius and the region. The BOI also assists investors in the growth, nurturing, and diversification of their business. With the goal of facilitating the implementation of investment projects and, more importantly, to continuously improving the investment and business climate, the BOI works in close collaboration with Government bodies, institutions, and private sector companies. The BOI has an important role of policy advocacy to continuously improve the competitiveness of Mauritius. The Board of Investment accompanies investors looking at opportunities in Africa as well.

Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique

CIDP is a private and independent contract research organization with over 10 years of experience in the evaluation of the safety and efficacy of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Its geographical position allows CIDP to conduct multi-centric clinical trials in accordance with Good Clinical Practices and international standards. CIDP comprises a team of doctors, pharmacists, project managers, clinical research assistants, biostatisticians, biologists, chemists, and data managers. CIDP Research & Innovation is an expert in ethno‐pharmacology and research and focuses its contract research services on plants and their potential application in cosmetics, nutrition, and therapeutics.

Insight Research

Founded in July 2014, Insight Research conducts safety and efficacy clinical studies and consumer testing for the cosmetics, medical devices, supplements, and pharmaceuticals industries. Insight Research is composed of specialists in the fields of dermatology, ophthalmology, dentistry, pediatrics, and gynecology, among others. All tests at Insight Research are carried out in strict compliance with Good Clinical Practice and local regulations.


National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD)

The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) performs R&D of drugs, biological products, and pharmaceutical raw materials based on indigenous resources. NIPRD works in collaboration with national and international partners such as the NIH, WHO, UNDP, CDC, NAFDAC, NANTMPs, as well as local and foreign universities. The Institute was named the ANDI Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development and its current research projects focus on the use of natural products against infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Zimbabwe & Southern African Development Community

African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST)

AiBST was founded to jump-start the biomedical sciences in Africa and focuses heavily on pharmaceutical sciences, the discovery of new drugs, and optimization of current medicines. It was named the ANDI Centre of Excellence in DMPK and Toxicology. AiBST is home to the African Biobank, which has DNA samples from populations across Africa. These samples may be utilized to perform biomarker research to understand the safety and efficacy of medicines in varied African populations. In addition to laboratory research, AiBST has Phase I & II clinical trials facilities.

USAID and Partners: Building an Ecosystem for Incubation

November 17 2016

India has an infant mortality rate of 39 per 1000 live births (2014, World Bank). Newborn babies, fragile and delicate, are prone to fevers and infections, which, in a resource-poor country like India, can become fatal. New parents, barely making ends meet on highly unreliable incomes, don’t have the resources to track their baby's’ health and often wait till it’s too late to take the child in for treatment.

Like most problems in India, this is a complex one, with multiple challenges and solutions. But then again, like most problems in India, there can be simple and effective solutions and people who care enough to find them: Such as a temperature monitoring device fashioned like a wristband that beeps and alerts caregivers when a baby’s temperature drops, now available for as little as $30 (Rs 2,000) in clinics and pharmacies. And the entrepreneur and Stanford mechanical engineer who cared enough to try and treat hypothermia in newborn children to save lives and make healthcare a few steps more accessible for the poor.

When Bempu, the social enterprise founded by Ratul Narain, was incubated by Villgro in 2014, it was still developing a prototype. The company’s biggest challenges were completing the steps necessary  – including risk assessment and sourcing options – to take their brand-new product to market and, subsequently, marketing the product and executing a sales strategy. A year-and-a-half later, Bempu has started selling the bracelet to private hospitals and has provided hundreds of doctors with samples of the final product. (Ratul was also selected for the Echoing Green Fellowship, while Bempu won funding from Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and was one of 17 awardees from USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth program).

Villgro’s approach to incubating social enterprises or startups with social impact has been evolving since 2001 – when social entrepreneurship was a rarely mentioned term in India – and continues to stay agile and grow based on entrepreneurs’ needs.

Our biggest learning has been that there is no one-size-fits-all model of incubation: While a company like Bempu may need more support around marketing and sales another health startup might need a large infusion of funds infusion for R&D and prototyping and access to doctors and labs. Social enterprises working in the education space have a completely different set of needs, such as how to create awareness for their products, integrate them into the classroom, and shape policy, whereas startups working in energy and agriculture may need help with last-mile distribution.

Our pioneering success – over 120 innovators supported in 15 years – is also reliant on factors like deep-dive portfolio management and enabling access to experts and resources within niche sectors, and more importantly:

a) Innovative techniques for an evolving space
From an entrepreneur-in-residence program to an accelerator style year-long program with classroom sessions to ‘diagnostic panels’ that bring together business and sector experts and entrepreneurs to brainstorm and develop strategies, we have continuously experimented with and then scaled (and occasionally discarded) tools and techniques that seek to magnify our portfolio companies growth and impact.  

b) High-touch mentoring for customised solutions
Time and again, whether it’s through a formal survey or in casual conversations, we have heard that mentoring – especially the brand of high-touch sector expertise offered at Villgro – is the most valuable service they receive. We run a highly engaged mentoring program that recruits former senior executives or experienced entrepreneurs and pairs them to work closely with portfolio companies. This has shown impressive results for the long run.

c) Building an ecosystem
No company or entrepreneur can work in isolation. Where there is funding, they need talent; where there is expert guidance, they need labs. An ecosystem of support – from events that bring people together to mentors to early-stage funding and more, you need an ecosystem to raise a start-up.

In the next phase of Villgro’s incubation model, these techniques and knowledge are being taken to a global context, to be replicated in other markets where social enterprise is on the rise, such as Kenya and Vietnam. New regions but similar contexts, where innovative market-based solutions are needed for age-old problems.

This partnership between Villgro and USAID’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative will help catalyze the implementation of what has been a highly effective approach into Villgro Kenya, a health-focused incubator set up in partnership with The Lemelson Foundation, and an incubation and investment program in Vietnam along with the Lotus Impact and local angel investor networks, such as the Mekong Angel Investor Network.

This partnership combines the knowledge and implementation of Villgro with the expertise and networks of PACE, setting the stage for even greater successes in the coming years. There will be new lessons to learn which will help us refine our approach, as we continue to grow our work and our impact.

This blog post is part of USAID’s Global Entrepreneurship Week Blog Series, which focuses on the importance of entrepreneurs for development, the challenges they face, and innovative models being developed to address them.

The Countdown is On: Investors' Circle’s Global Health Interest Group Launches on July 19th

July 05 2016

In February, six Investors’ Circle (IC) investor members convened at a rooftop restaurant in downtown Nairobi – four of them in Africa for the first time. Over a thousand hours, 50 meetings, eight company site visits, and one rocky rural bus ride later, the importance – and opportunity – of investing there was clear.

While impact investor interest in international investing is increasing, it’s difficult for US investors to understand the opportunities, challenges, and risks around investing in emerging markets. This Investor Days: Nairobi immersion trip was one of IC’s newest approaches to building international market and investment knowledge in East Africa’s global health landscape.

Through a partnership with Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), IC created this two-week immersion opportunity to overcome these investor challenges and to inform the global health impact investing ecosystem. SEAD brings together interdisciplinary partners through a coordinated effort across Duke University and leverages institutional relationships and networks to create an integrated global health social entrepreneurship hub for diverse stakeholders across the globe.

We brought six members to Nairobi with us. The agenda for Investor Days: Nairobi included attendance at the Sankalp Summit, engaging with local contacts on the ground in East Africa, and visiting with eight global health entrepreneurs over site visits. These three components of the trip sought to not only provide an immersion into the global health opportunities but also to dive deep into the landscape through education, forums, and meeting with prominent local investors and health care professionals.

The Sankalp Summit convened global inclusive development dialogues with entrepreneurs, impact investors, corporates, and governments and focused on spurring the entrepreneurship economy. It was here that IC members and staff led a sector-based conversation with over thirty attendees, participated in a sector showcase which resulted in two companies receiving IC investor interest, participated in the SEAD Report Launch Event, and attended a health panel led by Villgro Kenya, an early-stage social enterprise incubator that supports innovative healthcare businesses. The summit started conversations with entrepreneurs and investors that lasted the duration of the trip and continue today.

Two of the global health site visits were SEAD innovators, Afya Research and Jacaranda Health. Investors also met with a few later-stage companies, MicroEnsure,, and Burn Manufacturing. These visits illustrated the potential for good health investments and allowed the investors to learn these entrepreneurs’ thoughts on the market opportunity. This range of stage was helpful for investors to experience and helped to inform their understanding of the ecosystem. Other site visits included Toto Health, Jibu, OneDegreeSolar, SunCulture, and GreenChar. When investors weren’t engaging with entrepreneurs, they were busy learning with and from locals. Attendees participated in i3N’s Capital Roundtable with seven local angel investors, had meetings with prominent local healthcare professionals, and hosted a happy hour with over 30 local investors.

“Prior to this trip, East Africa was not on my radar simply because I didn’t know much—about the region, the market, and where the opportunities are. It was a life-changing trip. I’m now completely interested and eager to continue what’s been started,” says Lisa Hodges, an IC member who participated in the trip.
You may read more IC member investor perspectives by visiting Luni Libe’s blog. There is much to learn about investing in East Africa specifically and in the global health sector broadly, and we will be using our Investor Days: Nairobi experience as the foundation for sharing and continuing these important conversations.

Stay tuned for more on the global health landscape, the challenges, the opportunities, and the potential for investment. Over the next four weeks, IC will release weekly blog posts with insights and takeaways from our travel, culminating in the official launch of our Global Health Interest Group on July 19th – all interested capital providers are welcome to join us, so please register for that webinar here. We look forward engaging with you in the coming weeks!

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you.

5th floor, Strathmore University Students' Centre,
Madaraka, Nairobi, Kenya.
View large map