Fanning the embers of innovation & entrepreneurship in South Africa

 
  • Philips announces the winner of its South African Innovation Fellows Competition        
  • hearScreen mHealth solution is the #nextbigidea in improving access to primary healthcare

December 8, 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa – Philips South Africa has announced the hearScreen mHealth solution as the first winner of its South African Innovation Fellows Competition. The Innovation Fellows Competition was launched in August this year in collaboration with the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, with the goal of unlocking local talent and addressing regionally relevant challenges in healthcare.

 

The hearScreen mHealth solution makes widespread systematic hearing testing possible by providing a cost-effective, sustainable smartphone application that provides clinically valid tests and can be operated by generalist health personnel (e.g. community healthcare workers) along with cloud-based data management and referral systems linking patients to services. 

Recent WHO estimates indicate that there are 360 million persons in the world with disabling hearing loss (5.3% of the world’s population). The prevalence of disabling hearing loss in children is greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Approximately one-third of persons over 65 years are affected by disabling hearing loss with the prevalence being highest in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. With less than one hearing health provider to every million people in Africa, prospects for affected individuals are dire. Access to systematic hearing screening services is also unavailable in Sub-Saharan Africa.

prof-de-wet
“We are extremely honoured that Philips has recognised our hearScreen mHealth solution as an innovation that can help many people live more fulfilling lives,” said De Wet Swanepoel, inaugural Innovation Fellows Competition winner and professor in  the department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Pretoria. “Winning the Philips Innovation Fellows competition will help us make widespread systematic hearing testing possible, particularly within underserved communities, through this cost-effective, sustainable solution that can be operated by laypersons in primary health care contexts.”

The hearScreen mHealth solution was selected as the winner from an impressive Top-5 contingent and will receive Rand two-hundred thousand (R. 200,000) as a research and development grant towards the development and production of his technology. Swanepoel will also undergo a one year fellowship during which Philips will assist him by offering business advice on how to launch, market, and sell his product. During this time, Eddine Sarroukh, Head of Research, Philips Africa will be his mentor.

 

The other 2015 Innovation Fellows finalists included:
 

  • iMobiMama, an IT platform and Mobile Kiosk from Carol Thomas that can increase access to maternal care.
  • A low-cost portable mechanical non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilator from Sudesh Sivarasu that is mechanically operated and can be used to tackle Asthma in children aged five to 10 years old.
  • Ragesh Pillai, whose aim was to tackle the challenge of improving diabetes management through a software service designed to facilitate remote monitoring and communication between patients and their care givers at low cost.
  • Dean Hodgskiss’s solution aimed to increase the capacity of healthcare workers and medical equipment at primary healthcare sites through the utilisation of a mobile communication app specifically developed to operate effectively under the challenging African telecommunications conditions.


Each of these finalists received a cash prize of Rand twelve thousand (R. 12,000).

“In the beginning of the year, Philips South Africa  conducted an Innovation Research study, which indicated that sixty per cent (60%) of South Africans consider themselves to be innovators; we launched the  South African Innovation Fellows Competition in collaboration with The Innovation Hub, Pretoria to  support  South Africans  to showcase their own tangible innovations that can fundamentally change and improve the lives of others.” says JJ Van Dongen, Senior Vice President and CEO Philips Africa. “We were delighted by the response to the competition and the quality of work submitted by the Top-5 finalists was truly inspirational. We are now looking forward to turning De Wet Swanepoel's winning entry into a healthcare solution that will make a real and impactful difference in the lives of impacted people across Africa.”

Join the conversation @PhilipsSAfrica #nextbigidea

For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey
Philips Group Communications - Africa  
Tel: +31 62525 9000
Email: radhika.choksey@philips.com 

Natalie D’Amico

FleishmanHillard

Tel: +27 11 548 2030
Email : Natalie.damico@fleishman.co.za 

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2014 sales of EUR 21.4 billion and employs approximately 106,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter.

About The Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub, a subsidiary of the GGDA, is Africa's first internationally accredited Science Park and is a full member of the International Association of Science Parks. It is strategically located in Tshwane, South Africa's executive capital in the ‘smart' province of Gauteng. As the leading knowledge-intensive business cluster in South Africa, The Innovation Hub implements initiatives identified in the Gauteng Innovation Strategy and Green Economy Strategy to advance the economic development and growth of the province through innovation. For more information, kindly visit www.theinnovationhub.com  or follow us on Twitter @Innovhub and Facebook InnovhubZA