Chennai-headquartered global technology company Zoho Corp has invested $5 million (₹35 crore, in two tranches) for a 25 per cent stake in Voxelgrids, a Bengaluru-based start-up that builds magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. Outside the seed funding, this is the first investment for Voxelgrids.

Zoho has already invested in companies working in DeepTech such as vTitan and SignalChip. The company has invested around ₹250 crore over the years to help in critical R&D efforts, Sridhar Vembu, CEO and co-founder, Zoho Corp, told newspersons while announcing the investment in Voxelgrids.

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“We have a medical device company vTitan which has already started shipping products. So Zoho has experience with medical devices,” he said. The investment in Voxelgrids will foster development of deep technological capabilities and intellectual property (IP), he added.

Indigenous manufacture

One of the pressing concerns for the Indian economy is the lack of indigenous industrial know-how and manufacturing capabilities. A healthy DeepTech ecosystem is vital to solving this issue and driving structural economic change. Voxelgrids is one of the few companies that is working to solve this problem with MRI machines entirely built in India. “We need more such companies that can own and command this type of engineering know-how across different sectors,” said Vembu.

Vembu said that he and Voxelgrids’ founder and CEO Arjun Arunachalam share a common passion of manufacturing sophisticated technology in India and in the long run want to build critical systems based out of India.

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Voxelgrids is supported by the Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, an initiative of the Tata Trusts. It also received grant support from the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum. “Our first installation site was at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bengaluru, which is our clinical partner in this endeavour,” said information in Voxeslgrids’ website.

Strategic relationships

The Indian market is dominated by either imported machines or refurbished equipment. Voxelgrids' indigenous MRI technology provides a next generation, cost-effective alternative that enables healthcare facilities to save on capital and operational expenditure, said Arunachalam.

Voxelgrids manufactures 1.5T MRI scanners that have no liquid cryogenics; are lightweight, mobile, easy to install, operate and maintain even in remote locations such as small villages. The company’s facility in Bengaluru has capacity to make 12 magnets per year, he said.

The go-to-market along with Zoho will be strategic relationships for rapid market penetration, design and IP licensing opportunities and OEM business, he said.

The installed base of MRI in India is around 4,800 of which 65 per cent is in tier-1 cities. The projected market is around $450 million by 2023 with a 15 per cent CAGR, he added.