The Healthtech Challenge: Early support for made-in-Tunisia solutions in the fight against COVID-19

The Healthtech Challenge in Tunisia is a call for innovative solutions to help in the fight against COVID-19. The winning projects,  TUNIRESP and SMARTBOX CONTAINER INDUSTRY, received 55,000 euros in funding. All nine of the shortlisted projects received mentoring to help them on their journey to counter the effects of the coronavirus crisis in Tunisia.

Early action for Tunisia

The Tunisian Healthtech Challenge results from the collaboration of the Tunisian Startup Association, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique) and the Tunisian Private Sector Association, with support from Make-IT in Africa. On 21st of April the two winning projects were announced: TUNIRESP and SMARTBOX CONTAINER INDUSTRY. They won 55,000 euros in funding.

Winning Projects

TUNIRESDesign and manufacture of a low-cost automatic ventilator-based respirator, powered both by electricity and battery to ensure mobility.
SMARTBOX industrial containerShipping containers, converted into mobile care units in order to test for viral diseases and treat patients in affected areas.
The Healthtech Challenge

The organisations came together at an early stage to help mitigate not only the health implications of COVID-19, but also the impact of a nationwide shutdown on an economy that was already facing a recession before the coronavirus crisis started. Together, the organisations succeeded in quickly preparing the project and concluding the call for applications as early as 6 April, followed by an extensive mentoring programme and the selection of the winner on 20 April 2020.

Mentoring and virtual conference

From a total of 81 applicants, nine were selected for mentoring and further consideration for the final grant. From 8 to 15 April 2020, the pre-selected projects had access to online mentoring with a panel of experts via video conference. Through this initial mentoring session and follow-up meetings, the innovators learned how to better structure their projects and received additional training in the areas of project management, innovation, IT, sciences, finance and soft skills. All mentoring was facilitated by experienced Tunisian coaches.

Following input from their mentors, project teams had the opportunity to adapt their proposals before the jury decided on the final result. Regardless of whether or not they won, certain projects still had the opportunity to benefit from ongoing follow-up with industrial partners, helping them convert their ideas into reality and speed up implementation.

Please read more about the individual projects below.

Functional plastic-textile face maskDevelopment of a protective mask made of plastic and textile that adapts to the shape of the wearer’s face and seals at the sides.
YES, WE PRODUCEProduction via 3D printers of protective visors and sterilisable protective masks for Hospitals.
CONOXDesign and manufacture of oxygen concentrators for at-home patients suffering from respiratory
Human COVID-19 Sandwich ELAA KITDevelopment of a new diagnostic tool based on the use of aptamers in the ELAA sandwich test, to be produced and commercialized at national scale within an ELAA SARS CoV-2 KIT.
TWO-IN-ONESolution allowing for the effective use of a single respirator for two patients at the same time.
STOPCORONA-TNA platform for the remote management of suspected cases of COVID-19 which will ease the load on emergency telephone lines.

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