Nicco writes about the first cohort of AI4Health Asia Accelerator in South and Southeast Asia.
Villgro Philippines and the International Development Research Committee of Canada (IDRC) have collaborated to roll out the first-ever AI4Health Asia accelerator program this year. Its design promotes and nurtures innovations in Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) in South and Southeast Asia over the course of 10 months. Its objective is to fund and support startups that integrate innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) to solve health challenges across the region still recovering from the impact of COVID-19, particularly in the areas of (a) Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health (SRMH), and (2) Epidemic and Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR). In addition, AI4Health Asia will work to create and enable a robust ecosystem of support and catalyze responsible development, scaling, and support for AI innovations in healthcare.
The background for the AI4Health Asia program stems from the relevance of artificial intelligence in advancing technological innovations in the healthcare industry. There is an encouraging potential for enhancing the development of SRMH information, services, and innovations with AI. As such, these solutions cater towards creating responsible AI innovations that are centered around ethical implications and target the precepts of unity in diversity, respect for human rights, and even environmental sustainability. All of these ideas became one of the primary foundations of the AI4Health Asia program that are:
- Identify innovative startups working on AI integration in health, particularly SRMH & pandemic response in South & Southeast Asia
- Provide hands-on commercial/technical/ethical training and support from domain experts to Asian AI entrepreneurs on product development, go-to-market, and growth strategies
- Catalyze promising entrepreneurs with seed funding to grow talent and capacity in the region to support the local design, development, and deployment of responsible AI for health innovations
- Connect AI-enabled innovations with appropriate capital providers to improve health systems in South and Southeast Asia
Over the course of the first quarter of 2023, the program team conducted diligence calls, with numerous startups, and a Mini Pitch Day was held from March 27 to 28 with 13 selected startups who presented their projects to a selection panel consisting of experts and officials from the AI and health sector and executives of Villgro Philippines, India, USA, and Africa.
The Selection Panel:
- Priya Thachadi, Co-Founder, Villgro Philippines
- Carlo Almendral, Chief Executive & Founder, Artificial Intelligence, Inc.
- Ramanathan V, Start-up Enthusiast for Mentoring, Senior Advisor & Board Observer, Angel Investor Medtech and Healthtech Startups
- Arun Venkatesan, Co-Founder and CEO, Villgro USA
- Dr. Kristine Mae “KM” Magtubo, Health Lead Associate, Ignite Impact Fund
The top 8 startups will now embark on a journey of learning, and scaling with the AI4 Health Asia accelerator. The cohort will undergo a series of training sessions, learning labs, mentoring, and partnership opportunities with the Villgro Philippines and IDRC teams.
Meet the AI4Health Asia cohort
bubbME.ai is an AI-powered educational game (EduGame) and Bot aimed in combating issues and problems related to gender-based violence. It aims to become the “Tamagotchi” that gives challenges, cares, and counsels women and children in acquiring knowledge and awareness towards preventing cyberbullying, phishing, financial scamming, and sexual harassment. The inspiration behind the creation of bubbME.ai is based on how the Indonesia-based team aims to impact the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and 5 (Gender Equality) in their communities.
To learn more about bubbME.ai, check their official page on Instagram
Chondo is a pioneering femtech platform based in Bangladesh founded in 2021 to track pregnancy and menstrual cycles in women. Their phone application aims to provide medical consultations and educate customers about keeping their mood and symptoms in check when they experience menstruation and pregnancy. The company also offers eco-friendly menstrual products wherein they focus and imbibe their slogans: #BleedwithPride and Embrace the Rhythm of your Body.
To know more about Chondo visit: https://chondo.app/
Hekate is a Vietnamese-based company that created the AI application called VIVID or known as the Virtual Violations Detector. It aims to protect children and families from the harmful effects of unhealthy food marketing and other health-related concerns. It detects violations and performs a background check on whether companies follow existing laws and conditions concerning various consumer products. VIVID also strengthens the implementation of these, specifically towards breastfeeding and consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, and soon will expand to sugar-based products.
To know more about Hekate or VIVID visit: https://code.corporateaccountabilitytool.org/
Mobiva is a Malaysian-based company that offers mobility solutions for workforce management, disaster risk reduction, and emergency management. Their application aims to create a virtual command center that resolves pandemic and epidemic response. The Mobiva Citizen App, similar to other response measures for natural disasters, is compared to the “Waze” and “Grab” for healthcare and rescue personnel, wherein they can help solve problems related to vaccination and quarantine management. Mobiva is currently planning to further expand its operations by tapping external partners and organizations in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines.
To know more about Mobiva visit: http://www.mobiva.net/
Momby is a mobile application that aims at assisting couples in having a fruitful and endearing partnership in their respective pregnancy and parenthood journeys. It was founded in Vietnam in 2019 by creating a personal AI assistant that allows them to access pertinent information about health and baby care, provide teleconsultation with healthcare providers and doctors (particularly obstetricians and gynecologists), and educate them on proper family planning and health management for children up to five years old. Momby also aims at combating information overload, anxiety, and depression, and direct consultations that take a long time and are pretty expensive.
To know more about Momby visit: https://momby.vn/
Ruangmom is a reproductive healthcare ecosystem aimed at tackling issues related to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health (SMRH) that focuses on a woman’s journey from pregnancy all the way to motherhood. Their mobile application and website aim to address the problem of limited access to a single reliable source of information concerning reproductive health management. The Indonesian-based company aims to educate, empower, and encourage women to make sound decisions toward managing their financial stability while also taking care of their physical health.
To know more about Ruangmom visit: https://www.ruangmom.com/
Sex-O-Phone is a Thai-based innovative social platform that serves as an electronic sex education consultant through machine learning and natural language processing. The 24/7 application aims to combat problems related to the rising number of teenage pregnancies in the country in recent years. It connects patients and healthcare providers towards consultation concerning sexual, reproductive, and maternal health (SMRH) and alleviates physiological and psychological problems in women’s health. They are built on the three core values of Privacy, Trust, and Professionalism.
To know more about Sex-O-Phone visit: https://callsexophone.wixsite.com/sex-o-phone-health-c
Titanium Technologies (Nepal)
Titanium Technologies, an Information Technology (IT) and Key Performance Objective (KPO) company based in Nepal, created a medical intermediary app called Dr. App. It aims at helping users make informed health-related decisions allowing them to search, locate, and select doctors and pertinent medical institutions. The data set they provide matches their queries and concerns in terms of four different areas: medical proficiency, experience, convenience, and urgency toward addressing health-related concerns. Dr. App is part of a variety of services directed toward alleviating and improving the conditions of reproductive health awareness and education.
To know more about Titanium Technologies visit: https://titaniumtechs.com/
*This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada
To learn more about AI4Health Asia, check out https://villgrophilippines.org/ai4health/ or reach out to us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
About the Author
Christian Dominic Angelo Sobremonte, known as Nicco to everyone he meets, is a Program Associate for Incubation at Villgro Philippines. He is part of the AI4Health Asia accelerator, in partnership with IDRC Canada, and is deeply involved in end-to-end management, incubation support, and leading virtual and in-person events for Villgro Philippines.
Connect with Nicco at firstname.lastname@example.org