Reflections on the Prix Galien Best Incubator/Accelerator Award

When Villgro Africa was founded, the goal was to support the most promising early-stage innovations in the health and life sciences. Since that time, we have seen immense growth, witnessed inspiring innovation from across the continent, and have continued to pursue our original goal. The work is rarely glamorous and progress is slow and steady, but every once in awhile we receive a significant boost that re-inspires us and gives us some extra motivation. We were delighted to receive the Prix Galien Award for Best Incubator/Accelerator at their New York ceremony last month. Sponsored by the Galien Foundation, the Prix Galien Awards acknowledge scientific advances in the life sciences. 

As an organisation, we have been reflecting on what this award means to us, looking back on the progress we have made but, most importantly, looking ahead to the many exciting things to come!

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"We are thrilled to share the wonderful news that Villgro Africa has been honoured as the Best Incubator by the Prix Galien Foundation at the recent Prix Galien Awards held in New York. This recognition inspires us to continue with our mission of driving positive change in the healthcare innovation landscape.

The Prix Galien Award is not just a recognition of past achievements; it's a beacon guiding Villgro Africa towards a future filled with opportunities, collaborations, and the potential to drive even more significant change in the healthcare industry. It’s a new dawn for innovators who dare to dream of a better healthcare system in Africa. We at Villgro Africa are committed to providing capital and technical assistance to health tech, medtech and biotech entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality." — Wilfred Njagi


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"It is always motivating to receive recognition and validation in our work and we are incredibly grateful to Prix Galien for giving Villgro Africa an extra injection of energy as we come to the end of 2023.  In the work we do at Villgro, especially in my specialty area of working with invention based enterprises (IBEs), progress is often slow — and sometimes not even steady. We take one step forward and one step back, making progress in one area where digression takes place in another. But we are convinced that our consistent impact over time will make a difference and improve the lives of people on the African continent. This award proves that the work we've done over the past eight years has, indeed, made a positive difference and we are deeply committed to continuing in that same direction, improving every step along the way." — Eng. Wambui Nyabero


2831 Galien Dinner 2023 LOW e1699350326709"I've often quipped (tongue in cheek) that early in my career as a biomedical scientist, my goal was to win the Nobel prize in medicine by ridding Africa of malaria, a region that suffers 96% of all malaria deaths globally.  However, I gave up that dream because I realised that Africa's biggest challenge is not in the science but rather its translation to impact through product development and commercialization.  Winning the Prix Galien Award is therefore very special for me because this is the biopharma industry's equivalent of the Nobel Prize and a strong validation of the work we are doing at Villgro in supporting Africa's health experts, scientists and engineers to take their inventions to market and scale.

It is also definitely a boost to our confidence and inspires us to do even more. In the post-COVID era, it is now abundantly clear that Africa's health security can no longer be dependent solely on the importation of health technologies. We need to build capacity for Africa's innovative biopharma industry to take off. This calls for doing more than the "fill and finish" manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals, to establish the capacity for homegrown invention, development and validation of health products.

As I look ahead, I am most excited about the East Africa Bioescalator initiative where we will leverage Nairobi's twin strengths as a regional biotech hub and billing of "silicon savannah" to harness the application of AI/ML in genomics to leapfrog homegrown drug and vaccine development in the region.  It would be great to see African startups that are building homegrown solutions emerging as winners in the Prix Galien Best Startup track in the coming years." —Dr. Robert Karanja


DSC 3092 scaled"To me, this award is not ours alone, it is shared equally with the innovators and companies that we serve who are committed to improving the lives of the underserved. It means we are on the right path — in a continent where far too many people still suffer from preventable and treatable illnesses, this award is validation that our unique approach is showing promise in addressing this significant health inequality.   

Receiving recognition from such a prestigious organisation will enable us to be even bolder in establishing more partnerships that can result in more innovators supported with more capital raised - that can be catalytic in inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs that are excited about the opportunity to be part of driving positive change in healthcare delivery in Africa."  — Rob Beyer