Investing in Innovation (i3)

Driving scale in data-driven innovation for health product distribution

Investing in Innovation (i3)is a pan-African initiative to support the commercialization and impact 60 promising early & growth-stage companies with grants & access to markets support. This program  aims to help scale African health tech businesses that bring high-quality health products (medicines, consumables, medical devices, assistive technologies, etc.) closer to where patients are, at affordable prices.

Inspired by the progress and promise of African innovators in supply chain, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, alongside Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), WHO AFRO, AUDA-NEPAD, and AmerisourceBergen, are launching i3.

Pillars of the program:

Access to Markets: i3’s flagship event that connects innovators to leading local and international industry players, financial institutions, donors, and governments to establish partnerships and pilot projects that fuel impact and scale.

Risk-Tolerant Finance: i3 provides systematic grants of $50,000 to all participating startups. This flexible funding is provided to address key business model needs and advance the startups’ charitable impacts.

Investment readiness support: i3 provides participating startups with tailored investment readiness support, delivered by leading innovation experts at CCHUB, Startupbootcamp Afritech, IMPACT Lab and Villgro Africa.


The application deadline for North, West and East African applications was on the 14thof August. If you apply after this date, your applications will not be reviewed.

Applications from Southern Africa will be accepted until the 21st of August at 11:59 pm WAT.


August 21, 2022
OrganizerInvesting in Innovation
Website Visit website
Targets Africa
Sectors Healthcare, Healthcare providers and services, HealthTech, Medical equipment and supplies

What do we have to offer to the selected participants?

The consortium of donors, industry actors and African institutions will provide 60 promising early and growth-stage start-ups with risk-tolerant funding and access to markets support to power innovators’ health impact and scale.

What problems we would like applicants to solve?

i3 powers companies who bring affordable, high-quality health products closer to where patients are. we’re looking for companies solving supply chain challenges with data-driven solutions that include:

  • Health Product Availability
  • Accessibility of Health Products
  • Health Product Quality
  • Health Product Affordability
  • Visibility of Health Product Movement
  • Waste Management in Health Supply Chains


i3 is operationalized by:

  • Coordination team: Salient Advisory, SCIDaR, SouthBridge A&I.
  • Implementing partners: CCHub, Startupbootcamp, IMPACT Lab, Villgro Africa


Eligibility criteria:

To be eligible to apply, startups must fulfill the following criteria:

  1. Representative of the business must be a founder / co-founder, and at least 18 years old with a valid ID document.
  2. Company must be owned, led or operated by an African(s). We define this as having an African national with long-term control and management of the business, an equity stake and an active role in both strategic and day-to-day decision-making. Organization does not need to be headquartered in Africa
  3. Business must have a legal presence on the African continent.
  4. Business offerings must be focused on serving the needs of African customers.
  5. Business must be in the early or growth stage as defined below. Nascent/idea-stage companies or mature companies (e.g. mature incumbent distribution businesses) are not eligible.
    • a. Early-stage – You must have clearly defined your market, validated customer demand, developed a working prototype and product map and begun to generate revenue, with a strong plan to scale and sustain growth.
    • b. Growth Stage – You must have strong, well-defined revenue model, sales, and operational capabilities. Your Products and service must be primed to scale, and customer acquisition costs must be declining. You must have evidence of customer acceptance of your products (reflected in sales volumes, beyond early adopters).
  6. Business must be technology-enabled and offer data-driven products or services focused on health product distribution. 
    We will also consider non-health businesses with documented plans to offer data-driven products or services focused on health product distribution in the short-term (2-3 months).
  7. Businesses must be able to demonstrate that grant funding will generate direct improvements in one or more of the following areas: availability, accessibility, quality, affordability and visibility of critical health products.
  8. Nonprofits, consultancies, intermediaries, and consortiums are not eligible.
  9. You must show good management and governance.

The program has a special focus on supporting founders who are traditionally excluded, including women-led companies, and companies operating in Francophone Africa.

How are we going to select innovators?

  • Each region will have its own regional selection committee (i.e. West Africa, East Africa, North Africa and Southern Africa) comprising internal and external members who are familiar with the region’s entrepreneurial and supply chain ecosystems. The North African regional selection committee would evaluate applications from all of Francophone Africa.
  • Each regional selection committee will comprise representatives from the implementing (accelerator) partner for the region, investors, supply chain experts, health care industry experts (including from government or donor-funded agencies), and a member of the program coordination team. Some members will be from sponsor organizations.
  • To ensure equitable representation, each regional selection committee will consist of a minimum representation of women (50% of the selection committee).
  • The selection process will be conducted across several levels:
    • All applicants will be screened based on the Eligibility Criteria. All who fulfill the Eligibility Criteria will be sent to the regional selection committees for their respective region.
    • Each regional Selection Committee will meet to select the top startups from their respective regions and harmonize the cohort.
  • Following selection by the Steering Committee, the program coordination team will conduct due diligence on each selected innovator to validate the legal status and charitability of each recommended organization to ensure they are eligible to receive grant funding.
  • Once each innovator has been verified, the cohort will be finalized and selected innovators informed.




 If you would like to discuss whether your work is relevant to the i3 program or require any other clarification about the application process, please contact us

i3 applicants must be:

  • Early-stage and Growth-stage tech-enabled businesses owned or operated by African Nationals, and with a legal presence on the continent
  • Businesses focused on tech-enabled product distribution with validated proof of concept, recorded revenues and demonstrable potential for growth
  • Demonstrable potential for social and societal impact

The deadline is on the 14th of August for companies affiliated to the North, West and East African region and 21st of August for companies affiliated to Southern Africa.

Questions about the application process and program can be submitted to{ on or before by July 21st.  Submitted questions and answers will be posted on the website for all potential applicants shortly thereafter.

No, the i3 program only accepts businesses with products/services, and customers.The more evidence you can provide to demonstrate the impact of your products or services, the better your chances of being selected as part of the cohort

There is no fee required to apply for the i3 Program. All you need to do is complete the application form, enclose the relevant supporting documents, and answer any questions we may ask during or after submission. If you are shortlisted, you will need to set out time to participate in our due diligence process prior to final selection

 All information submitted may be seen by the i3 program team which includes judges and assessors. All members of the program team are bound by confidentiality agreements.We will retain application materials of applicants (including applicants who are not selected) for up to two years.

Your application will be strictly confidential, shared only with members of the i3 team and under confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with selection committees.

If you are shortlisted or selected for the program, we ask you to not publicize this fact until a date set by our communications team. Once companies have been admitted to the program, i3 may publicize your involvement through communications channels including but not limited to the program’s website, websites of program partners, social media platforms of program partners as well as other public communications channels.

  • Yes, you can make more than one application provided they are for separate businesses or ventures, if you are involved in both. 
  • Please do not submit more than one application for the same business

Yes, applicants who are not selected may apply to join later cohorts provided they meet the eligibility requirements at the time

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