The event – which was held in Lagos, Nigeria – saw 15 start-ups from eight African countries compete for the prize money of US$25,000.
M-SCAN won over the judges with their ability to make ultrasound scans available and affordable, especially for pregnant women in remote or underdeveloped areas in Africa. Their devices won extra marks for also being “laptop, tablet, and mobile phone compatible”.
“So with the money we have gotten, we are going to make sure that we buy more devices, deploy them to the societies with the low facility settings, so that we have ultrasound achieved, even in the low resource setting,” says Menyo Innocent, the M-SCAN team lead.
450 applications were received from start-ups around Africa:5 from Nigeria, 2 each from Ghana, South Africa and Uganda, and 1 each from Kenya, Senegal, Zambia and Tanzania. Most of the companies showcased innovations focused on disrupting the financial, agricultural, and transporation sectors.
“Africa is an awesome big deal because it showcases that Africa start-ups are on the global map, that we are vibrant, you know tech communities in Africa and that basically we are solving problems that are you know, huge problems and that could lead to innovations that come out of Africa, that can actually influence the rest of the world,” said Eleni Gabre-Mahdin, the founder and CEO of Ethiopia’s blueMoon Incubator, who was one of the event’s speakers.
Kola Aina is a founding partner with Ventures Platform, an Abuja-based pan-African venture capital firm.
“We can’t necessarily entrepreneur our way out of bad governance or what have you, so I think it is really important that actors within the ecosystem also sort of hold government accountable and essentially push for the right policy environment that will ensure that the companies continue to grow,” said Aina, who also spoke at the event.
Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’, South Africa’s ‘Silicon Cape’ and Rwanda’s ‘kLab’ in Kigali, were pioneer tech centres, but the rest of the continent is rapidly catching up as internet accessibility and investor appetite improves.
“Lagos is really the power house of the start-up scene in Africa. There is a lot of strength in South Africa, there is a lot of strength in Kenya, in Ghana and a few other countries, but here in Nigeria, there is no question that the energy is here, it is bigger and stronger than anywhere else,” said Ned Desmond, COO of TechCrunch, the American technology news publisher.
Apart from the cash prize, M-SCAN also gets an all expense paid trip for two to Techcrunch’s ‘Disrupt San Francisco’ in 2019, which is a 10,000-capacity show that will give them the opportunity to exhibit to a much larger audience and a US$100,000 purse.