5 medical solutions startups from MENA

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Research suggests that the global medical device market will grow by 14 percent between 2016 and 2020. However, VC investment in medical technology, certainly in the US, is down.

As we’ve previously reported on Wamda the world of medical hardware innovation is a tough one, especially in the Middle East. But here are five coming out of the region that are not giving up any time soon.

Life Sense

Country: Lebanon/US

Founder: Ziad Sankari, Cardio Diagnostics

Funding: VC Berytech Fund I in 2012, now in the process of closing a round

How it works: A cloud-based wearable heart monitor that checks the electrical activity of the heart, detects abnormalities and alerts a relevant hospital or physician who then evaluates and responds in case of an emergency. As well as closing a round now with Lebanese VCs, they have recently received FDA approval in Saudi and will be expanding in US and Middle East markets.

The Lifesense monitor. (Image via Cardio Diagnostics)


Country: Jordan

Founder: Tareq Makhalfeh and Nada Khatib, Memeds

Funding: SRTD-II funding from the EU Commission collaboration with the Higher Council of Science and Technology in Jordan

How it works: The Mini Intelligent and Nearby Dispenser (MIND) is an automated pill dispenser.

Since mid 2015, MIND has been incubated at Jordan’s Ipark, working on their prototype. They have a patent in Jordan and are currently working on obtaining a US patent. Earlier this year they were semi-finalists at the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition. Once they finish their prototype this year, they will look to raise funds.

A rendering of the MIND. (Image via Memeds)


Country: Jordan

Founder: Ziad Abu Ayyash, Sannula

Funding: Jordan’s Applied Scientific Research Fund (ASRF)

How it works: The device enhances the already available two-way cannula (a thin tube inserted into a vein) to be a four-way valve instead. It reduces the spilling out of blood as the needle is removed from the vein. Unlike the current cannula which automatically pulls back the needle, this iteration of the needle is pulled back manually within a cocoon, preventing the loss of the vein and/or further exposure to cutting oneself. After receiving financing from Jordan’s ASRF for his patents, Abu Ayyash took Sannula to Europe for prototyping. In France, he spent two months incubated at CEEI Provence in 2015. He told Wamda he had applied to the Jordan Enterprise and Development Corporation (JEDCO) but was unsuccessful. He is currently looking to Turkey for funding. 

The latest rendering of the Sannula. (Image via Sannula)

Sensio Air

Country: Lebanon

Founder: Cyrille Najjar and Dr. Eve Tamraz, White Lab

Funding: yes

How it works: Sensio Air is a device used to help a user’s surrounding air quality. It detects allergens, moulds, dust mites, pollens and differentiates between them. In addition to being at the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, they have now joined the global accelerator Mass Challenge, in the UK, where they will be incubated for a few months.

The Sensio Air on a work tour in Paris. (Image via White Lab)


Country: Lebanon

Founder: Samer el Gharib

Funding: seed funding from Berytech

How it works: A smart lighter designed to help smokers quit or reduce smoking, it monitors a smoker’s use while “learning” the user’s habit. By recording the user’s behaviour, it lets the smoker know when it's appropriate to smoke, based on their previous habits and their intention to cut down or quit. If the smoker is trying to light up outside of those suggested smoking times, the lighter won't work unless they hit the 'cheat' button on the lighter. If the user doesn't cheat for five consecutive days the algorithm will remove one cigarette from the program and so on.

Currently with UK Lebanon Tech Hub they are working with University College of London and John Hopkins University to conduct behavioral testing with the device. They have a working prototype which they will copy to 200 lighters to enable them to do tests for the algorithm and the app. Their funding so far has allowed them to conduct R&D and prepare for manufacturing. They are looking to raise another $6 million in a Series A round for production and marketing.

The Slighter device. (Image via Slighter)

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