AI and Healthcare: Edison Accelerator Is Designed for Innovators in the Middle East and Africa
April 21, 2022
The typical startup story focuses on tireless founders working seven-day weeks to keep up with growth, hire enough employees, and raise sufficient funding.
However, other, more banal-seeming aspects of a startup’s development can be equally make or break.
Especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), if a startup doesn’t have the right data, doesn’t have clean data, or simply has too little data, its product or solution won’t work properly in the real world. Likewise, if the company doesn’t understand the real pain points of their target customers, they won’t have anyone to buy their product.
If the startup is operating in the healthcare space, additional challenges include validating the solution in a clinical setting, and making sure the offering secures regulatory approval and commercial validation across multiple markets.
“GE Healthcare understands the centrality of data and appropriate use cases, especially when operating at the intersection of AI and healthcare, and when working to deliver a future of defined by precision healthcare that puts the patient front and center,” said Summer Nasief, General Manager for GE Healthcare Digital for Middle East, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, healthcare providers are looking to bring the latest technologies and solutions to their organizations, without having to build or hire in-house resources or navigate the uncertainty of new tech on their own.
“COVID-19 has shone a light on what can be achieved quickly and effectively when digital health players come together and focus on a specific problem statement”, says Jan Beger, Senior Director of Digital Ecosystem at GE Healthcare and Head of the accelerator. “The challenges the healthcare sector is facing are too complex for a single company to solve on its own. Co-creating with other companies in the healthcare ecosystem can be an effective way to bring together the ideas, skills, contacts, and other resources needed to produce truly powerful innovations.“
That’s why GE Healthcare has launched the Edison Accelerator program – a start-up acceleration and healthcare-provider collaboration initiative that provides a shared ecosystem to foster open innovation and drive the digital transformation of healthcare.
“Central to this program is its open-standards approach that ensures solutions developed will work with GE and non-GE technologies, PACS and other electronic medical records – as part of our commitment to breaking down the information silos that hamper organizations from leveraging the terabytes of valuable data being generated in healthcare settings every year,” Nasief said.
Edison Accelerator offers nearly market-ready start-ups access to healthcare providers, not only to validate their problem statements, but also to serve as partners that host pilots to validate their solutions.
Start-ups also gain access to high-quality, anonymized partner data and global GE Healthcare data; access to the powerful GE Healthcare Edison Digital Health Platform, program support from Wayra, and development support with issues like clinical trials, and regulatory management and approvals. The program also provides mentorships – both technological from GE Healthcare, Intel and others, and clinical, from the healthcare providers with whom they collaborate.
For healthcare providers, participating in the Edison Accelerator offers access to the latest AI innovations, custom designed to address their organization’s most pressing problems. Providers gain direct access to the start-ups, ensuring their solutions have been validated, meanwhile positioning themselves to stakeholders as innovators in the healthcare field.
“Hospitals and healthcare groups have peace of mind that there are no disruptions to operations, because the solutions being trialed have been customized to their existing workflows. They drop into the workflow and seamlessly become available to the physician, supporting their care of patients,” she said.
The first cohort of the Edison Accelerator program in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was launched last year with six companies. Applications for the next cohort will open later this spring.
“We think there are huge opportunities for start-ups from the Middle East and Africa to join the next cohort,” Nasief said.
“Particularly in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have committed to the knowledge economy and fostering innovation, and are nurturing successful start-up ecosystems. There also is great vibrancy in the Sub-Saharan Africa tech sector, where there are opportunities to leverage AI-powered technologies to extend healthcare far beyond the four walls of the hospital setting and leapfrog legacy approaches to healthcare.”
Investors have already shown their faith in these regions. In 2021, both the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa regions saw all-time-high inflows of venture capital funding, with $2.6 billion going to MENA and $2.7 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The Edison Accelerator program is supporting agile technology deployment that will change healthcare at its foundation,” Nasief said. “GE Healthcare is enabling this by creating a 360-degree ecosystem that identifies and nurtures promising AI tech, all while ensuring it is solving real-world problems.”
Ultimately, what differentiates the Edison Accelerator program from other incubators, she said, is its “100% focus on healthcare, the Edison Digital Health Platform that is designed to break down information silos, and our clear commitment to putting the patient at the center of every use case and healthcare challenge we solve.”
Start-ups and healthcare providers can learn more about Edison Accelerators by visiting the program website for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Read more stories about GE Healthcare’s work to enhance healthcare across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.