The past couple of years have completely transformed almost every industry, and healthcare industry has seen years’ worth of digital transformation take place in mere months, courtesy of COVID-19. Global demand for telehealth services has increased, revolutionizing the concept of how care is provided. These technologies have helped medical professionals to navigate some of the challenges presented by the pandemic, and have significantly impacted the provision of healthcare during this time.

Founded in late 2018, about a year before the COVID-19 pandemic started, EMBER Medical, a startup that provides an all-in-one telemedicine platform, was in a unique position to address the newly formed market through its technology. Based in Qatar, the platform enables patients to connect with medical professionals and receive real-time diagnosis and treatment anywhere, at any time.

Ahmed Abdel Hakam, General Manager of EMBER Medical

“In the MENA region, there are two doctors for every 10,000 patients so there is a real need for better accessibility, especially in emerging markets where patients in rural areas face geographical barriers to healthcare,” says Ahmed Abdel Hakam, General Manager of EMBER Medical. “And for physicians, 80% work alone or in SMEs with paper-based data and a high cost of acquiring new patients.”

In 2019, a few months before the pandemic began, the venture team at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), a member of Qatar Foundation, saw the potential for EMBER to radically change the way healthcare is provided in the region, and beyond. Qatar provides the perfect environment in which to nurture early-stage businesses and develop novel technologies, via access to a wide range of resources. Through its Tech Venture Fund (TVF), QSTP’s investment in EMBER helped to develop the business as it grew, and eventually scaled outside Qatar reaching 300,000 patient downloads.

Deeply rooted in Qatar, the two co-founders, Dr. Mohamed Elshazely, a Weill Cornell Medical-Qatar graduate and Shadi Wahba, Iowa State University US graduate, secured a partnership with Ooredoo, the nation’s biggest telecom provider, to allow Ooredoo’s clients to benefit from EMBER’s platform with flexible payment solutions, rewards, and other benefits. The company has since gained significant international exposure, with Egypt becoming its largest market.

Hakam continues: “QSTP showed us that Qatar is a healthy and safe market for early-stage entrepreneurs, and can offer immense support through incubation programs and funding, but can also help in navigating the regulatory requirements for a young business. Ultimately, TVF allows you to leverage a community of mentors and investors in order to scale your business, and the team gave us the opportunity to realize our vision of expansion into new markets where there is a huge need for telehealth services.”

Dr. Danny Ramadan, Investment Director at QSTP, said: “TVF actively pursues both local tech-based startups with early product validation looking to scale, as well as international tech-based startups with existing touchpoints to Qatar. We find startups with a strong strategic objective which are offering groundbreaking solutions. Ultimately, we want to foster the innovation that is coming out of these teams that has the potential to deliver real impact to our societies and economies, and whose journeys also pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps.”

TVF is a strategic venture capital fund that supports local innovative startups and attracts international ones looking to scale in the region and beyond. To apply and find out more, please visit: https://qstp.org.qa/tech-venture-fund/

To read more about EMBER Medical, visit https://embermed.com/