NSRCEL, the start-up incubation cell of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), will start a new program for incubation of start-ups in the sector of assistive technology for disabilities by September this year.  

Assistive tech programs for locomotors disability, neural disability, and mental health will be focussed on. The program is being developed by inculcating from some of the existing programmes who work in the area of assistive tech.

Anand Sri Ganesh, Chief Operating Officer, NSRCEL told BusinessLine that almost by definition, the space doesn’t lend itself to organical-scaling.

In order to create a high worth company with this kind of a product market definition is an almost unrealistic task. The market structure, customer access, availability of funding for the sector doesn’t exist, and the business models are very peculiar. 

“A lot of fundamental work is being done by the institution in partnership with others to translate the offerings in a manner that is commercially viable for a healthcare provider and making sustainable too. In order to do this, we intend to bring in different models that might help ventures sustain and scale,” he added. 

The incubator believes, in an ecosystem where healthcare providers wouldn’t trust anything but highly proven technologies, innovative solutions by entrepreneurs should be provided safe spaces to test, experiment and take the product to the market in a scalable manner. 

The incubator already has ventures operating in the disabilities sector. Within the learning disability space, it has ventures that are using AI and speech recognition to help assist in overcoming learning disabilities and working with tutors to enable them to be more effective in counselling beneficiaries. There is also a venture that is trying to overcome motor disabilities in the passenger car space. 

In 2021-22, 1095 ventures were incubated across various sectors through 12 distinct programs. Over the course of next financial year, the incubator intends to scale the number of programs to 16. It also aims to double the number of ventures to be incubated by next year.