Discovery Health made it possible for 13 leading South African medical technology entrepreneurs to take part in the first ever Discovery Entrepreneurs Medical Technology Programme, which occurred in San Francisco from November 27 to December 3, 2016.
One of the 13 successful entrants chosen to participate, was South African self-screening medical testing company, UDoTest™. After a thorough selection and interview processes, S.A.’s most innovative tech-enabled health and wellness enterprises and entrepreneurs, embarked on a week long, fully funded educational business visit to the Silicon Valley, USA. where the latest in global technology-driven innovation was explored. In addition to this once in a lifetime business tour, these start-ups also received business mentorship going forward, access to company development and procurement support, as well as supply chain and investment opportunities.
Whilst in San Francisco, Allison Martin, CEO of UDoTest, piqued the interest of Launchpad Digital Health, an incubator with innovative programs for start-ups wanting to pressure test their businesses in the US, and was accepted into their healthcare incubator for a 6 month period, which commenced from January this year.
“This whole journey has been unbelievable,” says 33 year-old Martin, from her new office in San Francisco. “When I entered to take part in the Discovery Entrepreneurs Medical Technology Programme last year, I knew that I was up against stiff competition from other entrepreneurs in the SA medical and healthcare space, who also have huge passion, business acumen and vision.”
UDoTest™, founded by Martin, offers breakthrough and accurate self-screening pathology tests, currently in the disease areas of HPV, STD, Colon and Gluten Intolerance detection. “It is enormously encouraging to know that Discovery Health recognizes the value of technology in driving innovation in healthcare,” says Martin. “The goal of the San Francisco trip was not only to open our minds, to change our perceptions and get us to realize our full potential, it was to learn as much as possible in the leading healthcare start-up community of the world, and to make us realize that we too can compete on a global scale.”
In September 2016, at the launch of the Entrepreneurs Medical Technology Programme, Dr Ryan Noach, Discovery Health’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer had this to say. “This is an industry that has the ability to disrupt the game, and with this Programme, Discovery will provide promising entrepreneurs with the opportunity to network and learn in a global market. “
“Without a large company like Discovery Health paving the global way forward for start-ups such as UDoTest, the required expertise would not be assimilated and learned,” comments Martin. “One of the most significant things that I have learnt so far is the importance of ‘Paying it Forward in Business’. The senior executives that I have had the privilege of meeting in the US, strongly believe in this notion. Within 15 minutes of meeting, they already have a list of introductions and next steps to be made. They are generous of their time and influential networks. I have realized just how important it is to offer the same.”
The next few months will offer Martin a plethora of learnings in the arena of medical start-ups which will be shared on her return to South Africa.