Matchmaking program TechEmerge aims to bring new technologies to markets that need them most.

Matchmaking program TechEmerge aims to bring new technologies to markets that need them most. © TechEmerge

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Five million people in India suffer heart attacks every year. Three million of these mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers—more than half of the victims—don’t survive. If doctors could predict exactly when an at-risk patient is going to have a heart attack, those numbers might improve. Technology that more precisely detects an individual’s fluctuations in health could help—and one such device recently went on the market. 

The device, developed by Singapore-based innovator Tricog, diagnoses heart abnormalities remotely with the help of off-the-shelf electrocardiogram machines. It’s like a red flag that warns doctors which patients have an urgent need for medical intervention.

This innovation was introduced in India through TechEmerge, an IFC initiative that offers technology developers access to critical clients in developing markets. TechEmerge connected the device-maker, Tricog, with Cygnus Hospitals, a hospital chain in India with more than 1,000 beds for patients who need specialized cardiac care. 

Tricog technology “provides us a diagnosis within minutes,” says Himanshu Sharma, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Cygnus. A timelier diagnosis allows for remedies to be administered sooner, which lowers the likelihood the person will suffer a heart attack.

It’s not the only matchmaking success for TechEmerge, which IFC launched in India in 2016. The program has already coordinated, advised, and supported partnerships between 17 tech companies and 15 health-care providers in the country. More than 20 pilot projects have been launched and 10 commercial contracts have been signed. Together, the benefits may reach more than 250,000 patients in India annually.

After TechEmerge met its initial goals in India, IFC expanded the project to Brazil in 2018.

 

Focusing on Emerging Markets

TechEmerge is a matchmaking program for proven technology companies that are looking to grow their business in emerging markets. The acceleration platform connects start-ups with leading corporations in developing economies to form new partnerships. The objective is to bring technologies to new markets, and spur sustainable innovation in regions that need it the most.

After TechEmerge met its initial goals in India, IFC expanded the project to Brazil in 2018. During the Health Innovation Summit that took place in the country earlier this year, tech companies from around the world were invited to present their innovations to leading health-care providers. The summit was organized with support from Bionexo, a São Paulo-based developer of digital health-care solutions.

Of the 42 applications that emerged from the summit, IFC selected 27 pilot projects —involving 20 health tech innovators and 16 health-care providers—to receive support and funding. Collectively, these projects will receive $1 million in grants to test and validate new technologies across clinical facilities in the Brazilian market.

“I gained access to companies that provide solutions I didn’t even imagine could exist,” says Ana Karla Arraes von Sohsten, the Clinical Director of Real Hospital Português de Beneficência em Pernambuco, who attended the summit.

The technologies selected cover a broad range of areas including artificial intelligence, point-of-care diagnostics, and patient-engagement tools. Ultimately, the goal is for TechEmerge to establish long-term commercial partnerships that can improve health-care delivery throughout the country.

Doctor-Approved

The program encourages its beneficiaries to think big: TechEmerge aims to amplify its market impact as successful innovations are adopted beyond the initial program participants in India and Brazil. There are early signs that this has already begun.

“We took what we learned from the TechEmerge pilot project, replicated it in other markets, and have grown to serve over 1 million patients in 10 countries,” says Tricog’s founder, Charit Bhograj.

The TechEmerge program is part of IFC’s approach to catalyze the adoption of new technologies in emerging markets, and leverage the private sector to increase and improve access to high-quality health services. The program is being implemented in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry. It is supported by Health 2.0, a platform that brings together new technologies to the health sector.

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Published in November 2018

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