SBI Foundation, the CSR arm of State Bank of India, and Social Alpha have jointly launched the challenge, ‘Techtonic: Innovations in Assistive Technology’, inviting innovators and entrepreneurs working on products and services that address the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and enable them to lead an empowered life.

The programme will extend support to 10 start-ups towards accelerating their lab-to-market journey. Out of these 10, the top 4 start-ups will receive ₹15 lakh along with incubation support for 1 year.

Focus areas

The challenge focuses on the following areas-visual impairment, developmental disorders and chronic neurological conditions, locomotor disabilities, and speech and hearing disabilities.

Social Alpha is a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology start-ups.

Manjula Kalyansundaram, Managing Director & CEO, SBI Foundation told BusinessLine that the mission of the programme was to create an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. The initiative will seek to ensure that assistive tech solutions are sustained and scaled up across India, she said. It will encourage next generation of innovators to engage in much needed R&D of assistive technology, she added.

Manoj Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, Social Alpha, said “The gap between need and affordability of Assistive Technologies is huge, thus making it extremely difficult for persons with disabilities to access the latest innovations. SBI’s longstanding commitment to inclusion, combined with Social Alpha’s expertise in accelerating lab to market journeys of start-ups, will enable entrepreneurs to develop affordable and high-quality solutions to empower people with disabilities live a healthy, productive, and independent life.”

The challenge launched by SBI Foundation and Social Alpha is structured to support early-stage assistive technology start-ups. The start-ups will be provided with ₹15 lakh for ideating, prototyping, and growth. They will also get access to R&D labs for prototyping and infrastructure for scaled-up manufacturing, access to mentors, incubation facilities, industry players and end-users for product testing and business model validation.

India lacks a vibrant market for disruptive assistive technology solutions. However, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and passionate innovators are trying to develop solutions for people with disabilities.