minoHealth, a Ghanaian startup in AI Labs, in partnership with Imperial College London, has won the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Digital Innovation for Development in Africa (DIDA) Grant of up to £150,000.
The network, with partners across the U.K. and Africa, is also eligible for a-£3 million grant for research, development and implementation, on reaching the second stage of the programme.
The network’s project, initiated by Imperial College London, is the Lacewing-handheld digital molecular diagnostic device and platform.
Lacewing is a lab-on-a-chip device that allows for rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases, like malaria, with results comparable to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). It has already been adapted to COVID-19.
Mr Darlington Akogo, the Executive Director and Founder of minoHealth AI Labs, told the Ghana News Agency that the objective of the project is to ‘’test, improve and deploy the system especially in Africa, in the fight against Malaria and other infectious diseases.”
He said minoHealth AI Labs, as an AI partner to Imperial College London for the DIDA molecular diagnostic project, would work on AI and data science systems to be used within the platform.
“Also, the lacewing system will collect geographic information for each diagnostics, which we will use to map infectious disease and their spread. We’d then be developing machine learning-based forecasting models to predict the further spread of malaria, as well as other infectious diseases we adapt it to,’’ he said.
The Executive Director said the project has multiple benefits for Ghana in particular and other countries in Africa in general.
He said the handheld molecular diagnostic tool would be more accurate in diagnosing malaria and other infectious diseases than Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT), whilst also being more affordable compared to PCR tests.
He said the project, which is a partnership between U.K and African institutions, means African institutions would be involved in the research and development (R4D), testing and deployment of the lacewing system would directly boost the capacity of African institutions towards diagnostics and the various scientific and technological fields involved in the project.
On timelines, Mr Akogo said the Stage 1 grant, which ends by May 2021, is for further developing the DIDA network towards the project and putting together and publishing “A Roadmap for Development of Digital Diagnostic,“ with Stage 2 grant, which is up to £3 million is the research and development phase.
minoHealth AI Labs is a startup and multifaceted system with the objective of democratising quality healthcare with innovative and cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics and Cloud computing in Africa in addition to their AI radiological systems for detecting cancers and chest conditions from medical images.
Some of its products dovetail into fields like Biotechnology, Neuroscience, Optometry, Epidemiology and Dietetics/Nutrition through the application of tools to deliver healthcare more faster, better and yet cheaper.
The entities are members of Massachusett Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Global BioSummit Community and also the lead for the Topic Group on Artificial Intelligence for Radiology, under the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Health (FG-AI4H).
minoHealth’s platform was listed in AppsAfrica’s 5 African innovations disrupting traditional sectors.