With increased attention on the UN sustainable development goals and, previously, the millennium development goals, there has been incredible progress in reducing poverty, inequality, and mortality across the world. Globally, the infant mortality rate was dramatically reduced from 65 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 29 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. Similarly, the global youth literacy rate dropped from approximately 25 percent 50 years ago to less than 10 percent in 2016. However, to continue this progress, the world needs to become more innovative in finding solutions that address the complex problems that countries face today.
This need for innovation is why Innovations in Healthcare was founded to source, scout, study, and scale innovations addressing cost, access, or quality of healthcare around the world. Just last month, we announced our 2019 cohort of organizations utilizing such innovations to enhance healthcare delivery. Between our current innovator network and evaluating hundreds of organizations that apply to our network annually, we are able to keep a pulse on the evolving, dynamic healthcare innovation space. We have developed several insights on health innovation trends over the past two years of our application cycle, including trends related to geography and industry focus.
One fascinating trend we noticed was related to the growth of innovation in regions that are underrepresented in our network, such as West Africa. Compared to last year, the number of applicants with operations in Nigeria more than tripled. In fact, more applicants had operations in Nigeria than any other country, even compared to countries with a far larger population like India. Although we experienced growth in applicants operating in Nigeria, the majority of these organizations had only been operational for one to two years. This demonstrates the significant boom in the innovation space in Nigeria.
Compared to last year, the number of applicants with operations in Nigeria more than tripled. The rapid growth of healthcare entrepreneurs in Nigeria can be attributed to a few different reasons. One is the swift rise in internet users, with over 91.6 million people using the internet. As a result, the environment is now more conducive for a rise in digital health startups. Another reason for the boom is the investment into numerous tech hubs that support new tech entrepreneurs, such as the Co-Creation Hub. Facebook recently announced plans to launch a hub in Nigeria, and the World Bank is investing $3 million USD into Nigerian tech hubs. Consequently, there is money available for health technology startups in Nigeria, contributing to the rise of healthcare innovators. Lastly, Nigeria is a massive market with over 180 million people. However, less than 10 percent of the population has health insurance. Therefore, there is a need for innovative health solutions to ensure the remainder of the population has access to high-quality, low-cost care. We look forward to monitoring the rapid growth and maturation of these healthcare innovations in Nigeria over the next few years.
Compared to last year, the number of applicants with operations in Nigeria more than tripled
The Innovations in Healthcare network application process and connections to the world’s best innovators provide the team with significant understanding of trends within the healthcare innovation space. Not only does it allow us to recruit the best innovators, but it also helps us better support our network. By keeping an eye on the larger innovation ecosystem, we can ensure that our innovators keep up with the constantly-changing landscape through discussions of our findings during regular check-in communications. Nigeria is just one example, but there will be more to come. We are optimistic about the growth and scaling of many more healthcare innovations like those thriving in Nigeria around the world.