Here’s How India’s MedTech Innovators Can Help Battle COVID-19

Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai are offering ventilators and testing kits in India.

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Tech News
4 min read
Representational image of face masks, which are being used to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
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The call to battle the novel coronavirus has echoed from one country to the other. Despite the stringent measures, the outbreak doesn’t seem to be subsiding which has forced governments to look toward private companies and entrepreneurs to lend a helping hand in battling this pandemic.

The desperate need for medical equipment like ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE) has been the need of the hour, which is why many corporates are seeking innovators in the fields of medical technology to come up with cost-effective solutions.

Indian Innovators Aboard

Marico Innovation Foundation in partnership with A.T.E. Chandra Foundation has announced a grant of Rs 2.5 crore for MedTech innovators to come up with solutions that can help the medical community in the country in any way and also to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of ventilators, PPEs, hand sanitisers and face masks.

The country needs all hands on deck to solve a problem of this magnitude. In order to flatten the curve of Covid-19 outbreak, it is essential for us to be able to pool resources and capabilities quickly. We launched our grand challenge Innovate2Beat COVID to tap into solutions coming in from individual innovators and smaller organizations alike. Through this initiative, we want to support our medical fraternity to face challenges ensuing from a spike in cases.   
Harsh Mariwala - Founder of Marico Innovation Foundation and Chairman Marico Ltd.   

The program has received an “overwhelming response from innovators and the ecosystem alike,” said Harsh Mariwala. He added that members from the innovation ecosystem have also offered their support in this endeavour.

That Extra Help

Not only that, but the government of India has also announced a scheme called COVID-19 Solution Challenge where it’s inviting the people of India to offer innovative solutions to tackle problems related to the coronavirus pandemic. It is also offering a sum of Rs 1 lakh to solutions or ideas that the government can adopt.

Also, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Startup  (DPIIT) has launched a competition for budding entrepreneurs to come up with solutions to battle this crisis.

As the world is currently looking at a serious healthcare challenge caused by the pandemic COVID-19, DPIIT with Startup India is scouting for innovative technologies and solutions for precautionary as well as treatment-related interventions.   
Startup India

It is said that solutions that can be contributed in this area involve low-cost masks that can capture the virus in the air and absorb respiratory droplets. There can also be cost-effective thermal scanning equipment and rapid diagnostic kits.

On similar grounds, a US-based medical devices and health care company called Abbott claims to have got federal approvals for tests that can detect the coronavirus in five minutes.

That’s not all, it can deliver negative results in around 13 minutes.

Startups from across India are chipping in with all kinds of solutions that will help the government in its pursuit to stop the spread of the virus.

According to a Livemint report, a couple of startups, DronaMaps and BlinkIn that are working with the government to provide tech solutions.

DronaMaps, based out of Haryana, has developed a live dashboard to track COVID-19 patients and their activities. It is also offering access to other features geofencing, location tracking, and predictive analysis.

Also, BlinkIn from Bengaluru had provided remote tech support to the Huoshenshan Field Hospital in Wuhan, China, where they were installing air-handling units.

Biggies Driving MedTech Innovations

Four-wheeler manufacturers in India like Mahindra & Mahindra, Hyundai, and Maruti Suzuki have also been participating proactively by developing additional testing kits and ventilator prototypes to be put into use.

Following this, the Ministry of Health has asked automobile manufacturers to make ventilators where Bharat Electronics Limited will contribute by making 30,000 ventilators in the next two months as directed by the government.

Similar steps are being undertaken in other countries. Large tech companies like Tesla and SpaceX have shifted to producing ventilators.

There are smaller companies in the US that are also chipping in. We learned that alcohol brands are producing hand sanitsers to distribute to communities that have a shortage.

There are also 3D-printing companies like Markforged that are working on manufacturing PPEs like face shields and garment manufacturers are helping with the production of face masks.

In India, there are a lot of companies that are contributing resources and investing time in finding countermeasures against the virus however this has to be a sustained effort and one that involves a larger part of the community.

I would not look at grants as an incentive; I would say the grant is a solid support for innovators and med-tech solutions to quickly ramp-up modification, production and scale-up efforts.   
Harsh Mariwala - Founder of Marico Innovation Foundation and Chairman Marico Ltd.   

We think it just shouldn’t be the money that works as an incentive but the determination to rid the country of the malice we all know as COVID-19.

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