Adebayo Alonge was moved to the point of tears when RxALL, a deep tech company he co-founded was declared winner of the 2019 Hello Tomorrow Challenge, having competed with 4,500 deep tech startups from about 119 countries for a sum of €100,000.
For the Nigerian pharmacist, who co-developed a miniature nanoscanner that uses AI to identify fake drugs and assess general drug quality, his passion has always been to engage technology in solving African problems.
His foray from the field of science to technology springs from his final year project at the University of Ibadan, where he examined the significance of information communication technology to pharmaceutical practice.
In this spotlight interview, Alonge shares with TheCable Lifestyle the story on his advent into deep tech, his RxAll journey, and his plans for the future.
How would you describe your personality?
I am a passionate African who is interested in using technology, especially deep tech, which is the interception of science and programming, to solve social problems in Africa, and in the rest of the developing world. My focus is to reduce the gap, and provide opportunities for those who don’t have the privilege, and I believe that technology is the solution to enabling this sort of reduction of inequality in the society
By profession, you are a pharmacist, how did you dabble in the world of technology?
I started thinking about technology in 2018, my final year, where my final year project was essentially looking at ICT in pharmacy practice. And since then I have always been involved in technology, I also programme front end languages, and I also code in python and R as well. So you can as well call me a technology enabled pharmacist.
Did your parent support your new career path?
When I started RxAll and I had to leave Nigeria for a long period of time, my father sort of acted as the general manager overseeing our operations in Africa. My mom provided me the initial loan that I used to set up our office and our business in Nigeria. My sister as well helped out with recruiting staff locally in Africa and pointing out opportunities which I applied for. So far, my family have been very supportive family.
The Hello Tomorrow Challenge experience
At the group stages, it was a bit difficult to predict, just because the digital health group was very competitive. So when we were announced as the winner of digital health group, I felt very strongly especially after giving my one-minute pitch for the grand final prize that we were most likely going to win… we felt a very strong belief in the solution that we had pitched about, that we can actually use our platform to save a lot of lives across the world.
I was super excited when we were declared winner. It was virtually like we have been able to get unto the world stage in Europe, we have won a number of competition before, the last big one we won was in China, but we doing this in Europe in front of a global audience was like this this is the crowning of all our hard work and efforts we have put in over the last four years.
How RxAll started, the future for the team
I was on life support after using Ventolin tablet, 4 milligram. The drug was found not to contain any active ingredient, this experience was what inspired RxAll. I almost died from a fake drug and I knew so many people are dying every year from fake drugs. I knew if I solve this problem I am saving the lives of millions of people. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about fame.
The RxAll team has essentially three co-founders, that’s I, as the CEO, Amy Kao as the CMO, and Wei Liu as the CTO. We all met at Yale University and we decided we were all going to build out a product I was initially working on in Nigeria.
In terms of what the future holds for RxAII, our goal is to get out solutions into the rest of west Africa in the immediate time, over the long term, the next one two years, we would continue to build out our redistribution, and collaboration awareness in south east Asia, and in Latin America, and what we are essentially building is a multinational startup.
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