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Social Alpha partners with Mphasis, BIRAC to help assistive-tech startups

PTI New Delhi | Updated on June 27, 2019 Published on June 27, 2019

Manoj Kumar, Social Alpha, CEO   -  Website/Social Alpha

BIRAC supports bio-tech start-ups, entrepreneurs as well as SMEs across the bio-technology space

Social Alpha on Thursday said it has partnered with BIRAC and Mphasis to scout for 10 startups working on assistive technology solutions aimed at differently-abled persons. The company will also offer them financial support of up to Rs 20 lakh each.

"The aim of the ‘Quest for Assistive Technologies’ initiative is to provide selected startups with ‘lab-to-market’ support, including optimal product design, market access and customised assistance to each startup," said Manoj Kumar, Social Alpha Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-founder. Kumar is also the Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Tata Trusts.

The selected startups will undergo a three-month accelerator programme focussed on market access and investment readiness, he added.

Social Alpha - an initiative of Tata Trusts supported by the Department of Science and Technology - has already incubated four startups in this segment, including Bionic Yantra, Blee Technologies, Innaumation, and Tactopus.

Kumar said a corpus of about Rs 5 crore has been identified for investing in startups working on assistive technologies with a similar amount coming in through partners.

“There is a huge shortage of quality solutions that cater to persons-with-disabilities at an affordable price point. There are innovators who have built the right prototypes, but they struggle with the end-user acceptance, designing for manufacturing and market access,” Kumar explained.

Factors like affordability and user experience are key to large-scale adoption of such solutions, he noted.

“This joint programme is designed to validate the product-market fit, help with clinical trials where required and bridge the gaps that exist in the distribution and service channels,” he said.

“We believe this can really move the needle for disability inclusion in India and through this partnership, we are committed to further the cause,” Mphasis Vice President and Head- Corporate Social Responsibility Meenu Bhambhani said.

Estimates suggest that there are 4-8 crore disabled people in the country.

“Due to low literacy levels, social stigma and lack of opportunities, people with disabilities often remain excluded... While there are several players working to improve the situation, currently, there is no concerted industry effort. To address this gap, Social Alpha is also launching an Open Innovation Platform,” he said.

The aim of the platform is to identify key problems and the critical areas where technological interventions are necessary. It will then seek to get entrepreneurs to collaborate on developing the technology to address these challenges.

The platform will also facilitate market access for these innovations by aggregating end-users and inviting funders to eventually reduce the cost for consumers.

BIRAC supports bio-tech start-ups, entrepreneurs as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the bio-technology space.

Published on June 27, 2019
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