Originally: Benjamindada.com by Wale Ajiboye
Gricd Frij is an IoT-powered cooling box for the transportation and storage of temperature sensitive items. In the last decade, we experienced a boom in the healthcare industry. This boom is being driven by healthcare reforms that are disrupting business models, an aging population that is demanding more, and the adoption of advanced technologies such as wearable medical gadgets. Between 2010 and 2014, venture funding deals grew by 200%, according to Fortune. Similarly, a total of $11.7 billion has been invested by over 30,000 investors into the space.
Silicon Valley (SV) serves as the origin of many of the innovative health technology (healthtech) startups on the planet. For example, SV startup Verge Genomics uses AI to help pharmaceutical companies identify drugs that have the highest likelihood of working as intended. Another of such Silicon Valley startups is Alector which merges antibody technology and neuroimmunology to combat neurodegenerative disorders.
The fast pace of innovation in Silicon Valley makes it an exciting place to live and work. Also, it means that (potential) patients and people living in the areas served by these startups can have access to quality healthcare. With the advancements made in mobile computing, healthcare services can now be accessed at the tap of a button.
Nevertheless, this growth is not restricted to the United States (where SV is located). Other countries are also coming onboard the innovative healthtech wave.
Even beyond healthtech startup boom, Africa is starting to find her footing and is also gaining global recognition. Take, for instance, earlier this year, Andela—a talent accelerator founded in Nigeria and the U.S—raised a big round of funding from the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative. In another sign of Africa’s growing importance as a global hub for tech, Microsoft has launched a $100 million Africa Development Centre (ADC) with offices in Kenya and Nigeria. There have been similar fundraising and huge milestones recorded for fintech and other consumer tech startups like Flutterwave, and Paystack.
In the same vein, when we talk about the growth of healthtech startups in the world, you can also point to thriving ones in Nigeria. These Nigerian healthtech startups include LifeBank, Helium Health, Safer Mom, Kangpe (now RelianceHMO), and Gricd Frij. However, they have not raised as much funding as their counterparts in other categories like FinTech. Although, YCombinator startup, 54gene just closed (arguably) the biggest seed round ($4.5 million) for a healthtech startup out of Nigeria.
No doubt there is a lot of promise for healthtech startups to grow in leaps and bounds, especially when you consider the growing health care challenges in Nigeria like that of poor infrastructure, and the low doctor to patient ratio (1:3500). In a major South West city of Nigeria–Ibadan–there are reportedly only 23 doctors manning over 800 public healthcare centres. If given the funding, time, and mentorship, these healthtech startups would achieve product-market fit and scale faster.
Co-founded by CEO Oghenetega Iortim, Gricd Frij is an Internet of Things (IoT) startup, which has developed an affordable, portable and active cooling device for the storage of vaccines, blood and other temperature-sensitive products. This device which is embedded with real-time storage temperature and location monitoring technology has a dedicated battery which lasts up to 48 hours. Gricd was part of the first cohort of FbStart Accelerator, held in partnership with CcHUB. Recently, they emerged as the winner of Africa Fintech Foundry’s (AFF) startup pitch competition in which they were given $10,000 in funding.
At Gricd, we build autonomous, affordable smart cold chain systems for storage and transportation of temperature sensitive medication thus making them available even at the last mile.
Gricd’s industry play in cold chain technology can find expression in multiple sectors like Healthcare and Agriculture. In healthcare, cold chain technology is required for the preservation of products, medications and the dissemination of vaccines.
For a simple device which you can turn on, enter a preset temperature, place your temperature-sensitive products in it and monitor its data via your mobile phone, we can say that this innovation is quite laudable.
Inadequate cold chain facility for transportation and storage has meant that a huge number of Nigeria’s child population do not receive routine immunization. Plugging this negligence could prevent the death of about 1.5 million people annually.
In Agriculture, cold chain technology is required for the preservation and storage of farm produce. According to FIIRO, a Nigeria-based food research agency, a farmer loses between 40-50% of farm produce. This means that a significant amount of farm harvest is lost and if that loophole can be curbed, it is a potential boost for the agro-economy. Research studies have shown that the majority of farm owners in Nigeria are without access to cold chain solutions.
Cooling and refrigeration rely on access to a reliable and affordable source of either electricity or diesel fuel which are often lacking or virtually non-existent in rural parts of the country. The adoption of GRICD Frij provides reliable, affordable cold chain solution that preserves perishable items like crop produce, dairy milk or household food, finding purpose across various sectors. In agriculture, this would greatly help in the fight against post-harvest losses.
Our plans for the future is to further scale our solution portfolio and extend our services to the agriculture sector in which these losses are made.