Villgro backed OneBreath raises INR 18 crores from Ventureast Tenet Fund and others

onebreathOneBreath, co-founded by A.Vijay Simha, Matthew Callaghan and Bryan Loomas, has raised a total funding of INR 18 crores, including equity investment from Ventureast Tenet Fund, and grant money. Angel investors like Rajiv Kuchhal and BVR Mohan Reddy have also backed the company. It is a medical device company that is developing an innovative low-cost mechanical ventilator intended to improve acute ICU care for patients across all communities. Previously funded by Villgro, OneBreath will use the funds to expand into emerging markets such as India, Africa and Eastern Europe. The firm, which has an office in Bangalore, will also use the funds to gain clearance from regulatory bodies in Europe and the United States for ventilators designed for use in critical care across the world. “We realised that the bigger opportunity is going to be in emerging markets,” says Matthew Callaghan.

An associate professor of surgery at Stanford, Callaghan initially designed the product for use by patients in the US in the event of a severe influenza pandemic. However, respiratory illness is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death in developing nations too. Each year, thousands of patients die because of lack of early access to mechanical ventilation. “We felt it was a larger market to address rather than just the flu pandemic market of US,” says Vijay Simha.

Based on current bed-to-ventilator ratio, India’s shortage is over one million devices. New machines cost around $40,000 (25lakhs) and are often too complex and fragile for use in harsh rural environments. OneBreath’s product, which is priced at around 3 lakh or onefifth of the cost of a regular ventilator, is portable and battery operated. It can be used in rural areas where access to electricity is limited. “We took those inputs to make it rugged as per the Indian conditions,” said Simha. The team has been able to reduce the price by redesigning the ventilator and developing a micro-controller, a small computer that controls the functioning of the whole system. They were also able to make it compact by replacing mechanical components with software algorithms.

Watch this space for a detailed interview with the founders.