Six start-ups in Oncology and Digital Health to receive grants of 65 lacs each under Pfizer’s INDovation Program
Program partners Pfizer Limited, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, Social Alpha, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT-Delhi and AGNIi, with UN Health Innovation Exchange (UNHIEX) as the knowledge partner, today announced the six winners of the first edition of Pfizer INDovation incubation initiative for healthcare start-ups. The focus is on oncology and digital health, because of the increasing burden of cancer in India and the emerging use of digital health to ensure better patient outcomes. The six winners who will be given a grant of Rs. 65 lacs each will receive incubation support from AIM, NITI Aayog and IIT Delhi. Pfizer will provide the grant as well as mentorship and technical assistance to the start-ups and Social Alpha will provide program acceleration support.
This incubation program, launched in April 2022, which will run for two years, will help to accelerate the lab-to-market journey of these winning startups. Apart from the grant, this support will include product engineering and development services, clinical validation guidance, regulatory advisory, identification of market access opportunities and catalytic cross-industrial collaborations.
Speaking about this program, Mr S. Sridhar, Managing Director, Pfizer Limited, said, “At Pfizer, we strongly believe in innovations and breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. I am very impressed by the ingenuity of the solutions proposed by the winning start-ups. Each one of these has the potential to significantly enhance healthcare delivery. I am confident that through the grants and the incubation support that each will receive from the program partners, the six winners will quickly and smoothly convert their brilliant ideas into commercially successful products and solutions that can help patients lead better lives.”
Commenting on the winning teams, Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, said, “I congratulate the winners of INDovation and wish them great success in the future. I am also pleased to note that the one thing all six winners have in common is that their solutions can contribute towards the National Digital Health Mission. The increased burden of cancer in India and poor prognosis because of delayed intervention, can be controlled through innovative digital health solutions.”
The winners under “Digital Health” category include BrainSight Technologies Pvt Ltd.’s Voxel Box that uses an AI-based computational engine to extract brain connectivity and activity patterns, and hard-to-understand structural features, as well as temporally dynamic symptoms. RAMJA Genosensor provides a rapid, easy, and cost-effective novel paper-based device to detect microbial infection and antimicrobial resistance in less than 2 hours. AI Health Highway India Pvt Ltd.’s Ai-Steth is a smart stethoscope to screen, detect and predict heart and lung disorders using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Under “Oncology”, Oncophenomics Life Sciences Pvt Ltd. has developed a tumour-informed liquid biopsy CGP test that helps circumvent the issues of non-approachable biopsy regions. Pragmatech Healthcare Solutions Pvt.’s CERVICHECK™ Kit provides a clinically conclusive and comprehensive solution for effective preventive cervical cancer screening implementation in a low resource setting, by addressing India-centric challenges of low-recall and drop-outs. Tera Lumen Solutions Pvt Ltd. has developed a non-invasive imaging device that can detect accurate cancer margins intraoperatively and rapidly (within ten minutes of surgery).
The INDovation program received applications from over 200 start-ups in the country. Each of these went through a rigorous vetting process by the jury before the final selection was made. The evaluation criteria was exhaustive and included the potential impact of the product/solution, technological innovation, unique value proposition, competitive advantage, financial and operational scalability and clarity on the future roadmap.
The esteemed jury included:
Dr Avinash Nanivadekar, Cluster Chief Operating Officer (Diagnostics), KIMSHEALTH
Dr Harpreet Singh, Head, Informatics, Systems and Research Management, ICMR
Mr. Jeyaseelan Jeyaraj, President, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
Dr. Moni Abraham Kuriakose, Medical Director and CEO, Karkinos and Former Director, Cochin Cancer Research Center
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor and Surgeon, Tata Memorial Center
Mr. Rajib Kumar Sen, Sr. Adviser (Health), NITI Aayog
Mr. Sameer Kanwar, Director, Digital Health, PATH
Sharad Goswami, Senior Director – Emerging Markets Policy & Public Affairs, Pfizer Ltd
Dr Sonali Dighe, Senior Director, Medical, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group
S. Sridhar, Managing Director, Pfizer Ltd
Dr Sudha Chandrashekhar, Executive Director, Health Policy & Hospital Engagement Assurance, National Health Authority
Mr. Suresh Ramu, Co-founder and CEO, CyteCare Hospitals
Dr Tony Raj, Dean, St Johns Research Institute
AIM and NITI Aayog will provide the six winners access to their entire network of incubators and facilities through co-incubation and will also give them technical and strategic advice. The winning start-ups will get customised incubation support across India, through IIT Delhi, the principal incubation partner, other major technology institutes and the incubation network of Atal Innovation Mission across India.
Dr Anil Wali, Managing Director, FITT, said, “As one of the country’s leading healthcare incubators, The Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) at IIT Delhi is pleased to provide access to our resources and help the six winners take the next steps in their start-up journey. Over the next 24 months, our faculty and experts will guide them to convert their products/ideas into sustainable healthcare solutions.”
Dr. Kshama Kothari, Director – Health and Wellness, Social Alpha, said, “In the pursuit of breakthrough innovations in healthcare, INDovation has identified six winning start-ups that have the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery and improve health outcomes. Social Alpha will support these start-ups in navigating the critical aspects of clinical validation, regulatory roadmap, and raising investment. The cross-industry collaboration of partners will also enable pilots, market access, and business advisory for scale up.”
The program is also being supported by AGNIi (Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations), PATH, AHPI (Association of Healthcare Providers India), St. John’s Research Institute, HCG Hospitals, Cytecare Hospitals, FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry), UNHIEX (UN Health Innovation Exchange), Google for Startups, Design Alpha, HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), Marico Innovation Foundation, and TenX2.