We are an African laboratory initiative called iLEAD (Innovation in Laboratory Engineered Accelerated Diagnostics). Our activities promote innovation, novel solutions and social entrepreneurship in the medical diagnostic arena focusing on five themes within the laboratory value chain. These five themes (focus areas) are developed in a phased approach within an innovation pipeline. The focus areas include Patient, Specimen, Transportation, Central Laboratory Testing and System-Wide Connectivity.

iLEAD works with the ‘end in mind’ and our success is moving innovations through the pipeline towards implementation for impact on patient care. There are three centres of excellence for iLEAD located in South Africa (Prof Wendy Stevens), Senegal (Prof Soulyemane Mboup) and Mozambique (Dr Ilesh Jani).

The initial consortium is supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and we already have projects in the product development pipeline such as biometrics for unique identification to improve linkage to care, specimen logistic solutions, alternative specimen collection and innovations that capitalise on the digital health era.

iLEAD invites innovators from across the globe to submit their innovation concepts. The successful incumbents enter the innovation pipeline and their projects are supported by iLEAD’s team of experienced Research & Development Scientists and Project Managers.

What is Unique to iLead

  • We have a pan-African approach to innovation and problem solving across the laboratory value chain
  • We have a strong social responsibility and commitment and reside in Africa
  • Our approach is agile and flexible to accommodate often unstable political climates
  • Our team is multidisciplinary with clinicians, scientists, biomedical engineers, implementation specialists, health economists (HE) and specialists in big data analytics
  • We have vast experience in implementation science and successfully manage/have managed large national laboratory programmes that deliver complex services in the public sector from centralized to very decentralized settings
  • Regional implementation programs that drive needs based research
  • Our laboratories encompass routine services within national programs, R&D and high level clinical and diagnostic trials across disease types and extend within our own networks and partners with a good understanding of evaluations beyond technology
  • We have a well-established biorepository
  • Our laboratory processes can be scaled and are underpinned by quality systems focused on pre-analytical, analytical and post analytical systems
  • We have success in developing our own solutions (concept to global impact) to address local needs with global impact
  • Well connected and contribute to global policies
  • We understand the regulatory and statutory frameworks in Africa
  • Our operating costs are relatively lower than Europe and the USA
  • We remain within the academic realm with a direct impact on future curricula, new talent and capacity building

We work in environments that:

  • Have high burdens of both communicable and non-communicable diseases
  • Where populations have inequitable access to healthcare
  • Where Africa’s science and technology systems are grossly underdeveloped as a result of underinvestment in R&D and poor implementation policies due to lack of human and institutional capacity
  • Where the laboratory and laboratory-clinic interface are frequently neglected
  • Growing young populations: 60% <25 year (South Africa)
  • Good research not translated into intellectual property for sustainability

Our Approach and Experience

Experienced Pioneering Passionate

  • > 25 Yr: HIV, TB, Malaria, NVD, Fever
  • Identify contexual gaps and map services-specific resource limited settings
  • Laboratory centered systems excellence
  • Implementation of large program across the laboratory value chain


  • Geographic African expanse (North-South)
  • African language base: English, Portuguese, French
  • Social Acceptability
  • Environmental Needs Assessment


  • Public and Private technology partners
  • Implementing global partners
  • Stakeholder relations (policy makers and Ministries of Health)
  • Environmental needs assessment


  • Clinical and Laboratory Scientists.
  • Biomedical Engineers
  • Health Economists
  • Quality monitoring across the laboratory value chain

R&D Track Record

  • Clinical needs assessment and proof of concept
  • Informed consent driven patient enrolment
  • Full spectrum (POC - Centralised) technology evaluation
  • Data collection and appropriate statistical analysis

Knowledge Dissemination

  • Good publication track record
  • Global policy development
  • Policy development and delivery