African VC Fund Teams Up With State Government & Tech Startups In The Fight Against COVID-19

By  |  March 23, 2020

Last week, we reported that Ventures Platform, a Nigeria-based Pan-African VC fund led by Kola Aina, had announced an intervention to fight COVID-19.

The VC fund pledged both financial and structural support to tech founders, developers, and enthusiasts who can use their skills to develop technologies that can help the government in the fight against COVID-19.

That effort birthed the #COVID19InnovationChallenge, as it was named. But things are set to get even more serious especially now that Nigeria has recorded its first COVID-19 fatality and the country’s confirmed cases count has risen to 35 as of Monday morning.

With that in mind, Ventures Platform has today announced a partnership with the Lagos State Government through its agency, The Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), in a bid to find tech-enabled solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ventures Platform and LASRIC will provide funding and rapid operational assistance to the selected teams and startups alongside technology and business industry experts.

LoftyInc, ACIOE, Wennovation, Flutterwave, AGS Tribe, SilverChip Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, IROKOtv, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, and Facebook, are also playing a part in the intervention, per a press release seen by WeeTracker.

Applications for the #COVID19InnovationChallenge have been extended to Monday 23 March 2020, as the Ventures Platform team continues to search for hackers, developers, enthusiasts or founders to build solutions for the pandemic.

The VC fund is also looking for experienced professionals in technology, public health and pandemic research, healthcare investment, public sector engagement, digital experience management, virtual care, entrepreneurship development, and support. 

Ventures Platform opened applications for their #COVID19InnovationChallenge to find tech-focussed ideas around heat mapping, preventative or information bots, solutions to assist with lifestyle adjustments, COVID-19 reporting and more.

The mission for the cross-community collaboration is to rapidly build and scale solutions that will have a significant positive impact on the current pandemic, not only in Nigeria but across the continent. 

Six successful applicants will be selected by Ventures Platform and LASRIC to participate in the #COVID19InnovationChallenge and will receive a USD 2 K equity-free grant, opportunity for further funding, as well as access to virtual workspace and mentorship from some of Africa’s top, healthcare, business, and technology leaders.

Named mentors include Rebecca Enonchong, Alexis Roman, O.O Nwoye, Seun Onigbinde, Titi Akinsanmi, Dr. Ola Brown,  Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, Dr. Ebi Ofrey, and Dr. Femi Kuti. 

On launching the #COVID19InnovationChallenge, Kola Aina, Ventures Platform founder, said, “Due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus, we really do not have a moment to lose, which is why we are grateful to have assembled such a talented and influential group of program partners and mentors, as we look to move on this very quickly.”

Even though African nations have not recorded the same volume of COVID-19 infections as other countries so far, governments across the continent are taking more preventive measures, as they brace for an expected spike in the spread. Africa’s COVID-19 cases have since exceeded 1,000.

Olatunbosun Alake of LASRIC added, “The Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council is partnering with Ventures Platform as we look to solve issues around the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that the State tackles issues around the pandemic in areas such as tracking, managing and solving related problems even for various health issues at large.”

The Ventures Platform  #COVID19InnovationChallenge is part of the wider global push to apply technology and innovation to curb the spread and prevent future outbreaks. 

Applications for the #COVID19InnovationChallenge are open here.

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