54gene, the African genomics research, services and development company has been named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020.
The list honours the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture, showcasing a variety of ways to thrive in today’s fast-changing world.
This year’s MIC list features 434 businesses from 39 countries, including Snap, Microsoft, Tesla, Spotify & Canva. Fast Company’s editors and writers sought out the most ground-breaking businesses on the planet and across myriad industries. They also judged nominations received through their application process.
Launched in 2019, 54gene utilises human genetic data derived from diverse African populations, to improve the development, availability and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population. Backed by international investors, 54gene aims to facilitate new drug and diagnostics discoveries that are more impactful for Africans.
On receiving the recognition from Fast Company, Dr Abasi Ene-Obong, Founder and CEO of 54gene says: “This accolade recognises our efforts to use robust data from Africa to advance global healthcare discoveries, and we are honoured to be featured in Fast Company’s list of the world’s most innovative companies at such an early stage of our journey. The fact that the industry has recognised our innovative approach to solving global health challenges, as well as the impact we are having on the continent, is a tremendous honour.”
“Africans have the most varied genetic profile in the world, yet, less than 3% of genomic data used in pharmaceutical research comes from the African continent. To be frank, the global pharmaceutical market will not advance without the inclusion of African DNA in global research. This is why, in 2019, we set out to end the inequalities that exist in human genomic research, by increasing access to genomic data from African populations. Ultimately, this will improve the development, availability and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to people of all races.”
The World’s Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides both a snapshot and a road map for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy.
“At a time of increasing global volatility, this year’s list showcases the resilience and optimism of businesses across the world. These companies are applying creativity to solve challenges within their industries and far beyond,” said Fast Company senior editor Amy Farley, who oversaw the issue with deputy editor David Lidsky.
As part of 54gene’s goal to improve the collective knowledge of genomic determinants of health, the company recently launched the African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG), to facilitate translational genomics research by African scientists. The initiative will re-invest in the health ecosystem by empowering the next generation of African genomic scientists through the provision and implementation of grants, fellowships, internships and training for medical researchers, trainees and students. The ACTG will also facilitate precision medicine across continental Africa.
The ACTG will be funding its first study under the Non-Communicable Diseases – Genetic Heritage Study (NCD-GHS) Consortium. The consortium will see over 100,000 Nigerians participate in the eponymous study which will seek to understand the genetic basis of the prevalent non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria such as cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, chronic kidney and sickle cell disease, among others.