Global innovators gather in Cape Town to reimagine healthcare in Africa

A new collaboration between the UCT Graduate School of Business and the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences is set to harness a needs-based approach to healthcare innovation in Africa.

A new platform for Africans to tackle health on the continent that will focus on generating creative and innovative solutions that cut across disciplines and sectors has been launched by the University of Cape Town. The Inclusive Healthcare Innovation Initiative (IHII), is a joint initiative of the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences.

The IHII will serve as a collaborative, cross-sectoral and trans-disciplinary platform and promote a needs-based, empathy-driven approach to healthcare innovation. Support for the initiative has been received from the National Department of Health and of Science and Technology, the South African Medical Research Council, and the Technology Innovation Agency.

To mark the launch of the Initiative, UCT will host two landmark events: the Hacking Health 2014 healthcare innovation hackathon in Cape Town on 24 & 25 January 2014, and the Inclusive Health Care Innovation Summit  in Cape Town on 29 & 30 January 2014.

The hackathon, to be held at Groote Schuur Hospital, will be the first of its kind in South Africa. Based on a proven international innovation model, this event is aimed at exposing participants to the role enabling technology can play in transforming healthcare delivery in an African context, and will give participants the opportunity to create and build innovative mobile health applications that address real and pressing health challenges. It will be an opportunity for healthcare workers, students and software developers to come together in a real healthcare setting and to be facilitated through the human-design process by a skilled facilitator. The goal is for each team to produce a workable prototype that can be showcased and matched with a sustainable business model. Teams will present their work at the Inclusive Healthcare Innovation Summit, held the following week.

The summit will give international and local innovators, experts and influencers the opportunity to discuss and debate what healthcare innovation means in and for an African context. In celebration of Cape Town being the World Design Capital 2014, the summit’s theme is “designing solutions, addressing needs”. Participants will gain from the experiences of other innovators, acquire user-insight, become aware of specific health needs requiring innovation, learn from best-practice solutions and be equipped with an approach to designing new and creative ways to contribute to the transformation of the healthcare system.

Speakers will come from all over the world and include Prof Anjali Sastry from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Richard Stubbs from the National Health Service in the UK, and the Financial Times Health correspondent, Andrew Jack. They will join a host of local and African presenters including Gustav Praekelt from the Praekelt Foundation, Dr Richard Gordon – Strategic Health Innovation partnership.

The launch of the IHII comes at a time when health care in South Africa and Africa is facing a myriad of challenges in delivering care to those who need it most.

“The complexity of challenges faced in healthcare is calling for different paradigms of thinking and for the co-creation of new innovative solutions,” says Professor de Villiers, Dean, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences. “Now more than ever innovation is required to develop solutions that can improve the delivery of healthcare in Africa in an inclusive, effective and affordable manner. These solutions must transcend current challenges in the system to improve health outcomes for patients but also to change the routines, responsibility and values of our healthworkers responsible for delivering the care.”

Director of the GSB, Professor Walter Baets says, “Together with the initiative’s partners, participants of the summit, and actors in the healthcare system, new innovative solutions for a healthier African future can be pioneered.”

The IHII will be based in the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the GSB and in the Department of Medicine at UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital.

For any queiries about the Initiative please contact Dr Lindi van Niekerk at / Tel:  072 236 2079

Registrations for the Inclusive Healthcare Innovation Summit are now open! To register go to


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UCT Graduate School of Business


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