How these young social innovators are improving maternal and child healthcare in India
Keeping in mind the often life-saving changes technology can bring to healthcare in the country, KIIT Technology Business Incubator has launched Social Innovation Immersion Programme (SIIP), in association with BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council). The intention is to create a pool of early-stage social innovators committed towards solving widespread problems in maternal and child health.
The 18-month-long SIIP was designed to help innovators develop from ideation to proof-of-concept and prototyping in the domain of maternal and child health. BIRAC introduced a scheme called SPARSH (Social innovation programme for Products: Affordable and Relevant to Societal Health) and sanctioned assistance to promote four social innovators to develop biotechnology or biomedical-related interventions for maternal and child health. BIRAC will grant Rs five lakh to each social innovator.
An initiative of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, KIIT-TBI is supported by National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB). Founded in 2009, it offers incubation facilities and helps incubatees progress through various stages of entrepreneurial development. TBI in Odisha was also listed as one of the best University-based Business Incubators of 2014 by the UBI Index.
KIIT Technology Business Incubator has so far incubated 37 companies in the areas of biotechnology, ICT, IT, biomedical technology, and IoT. The graduated incubatees include Roboticwares, Innovadors Lab, Hellodoctor24x7, Evolutionary Algorithms, Biologic Applications and Research and Ajatus Software. Currently, it has 19 in-house incubatees. KIIT-TBI is also a member of Asia Pacific Incubator Network (APIN).
KIIT-TBI CEO Mrutyunjay Suar said,
Every idea will find its right place in this world, if it is built upon in the rightful manner offering services against different sectors like – education, healthcare, agriculture, news and media, utilities, products, e-commerce, travel bringing diversity among fellow entrepreneurs.”
Odisha is the fifth largest State by area and eleventh largest by population. Capital city Bhubaneswar is leading in the first list of ‘Smart Cities’ announced by Government of India, with an estimated investment of Rs 50,000 crore in the next five years.
Odisha figures among all the bigger States in the country, with the highest Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 221 per one lakh live births, next to Assam (140 per one lakh live births), according to Census 2015.
Promoting social innovators in maternal and child health
N V V Kiran Vuppala: A bonafied biotechnologist, Kiran came from a remote village where the only source of earning a livelihood is agricultural labour, and the access to healthcare is a nightmare. He is developing a topical application of micro-nutrient supplementation required for women during pregnancy as per the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) guidelines of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This would also help reduce premature death, illness, impaired physical and mental abilities and improve bio-availability.
Sumona Karjee Mishra: She is developing a predictive diagnosis kit for detection of pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorder- preeclampsia, thus, preventing its progression to severe condition endangering the life of pregnant women and their fetus. A doctorate by profession and a mother, Sumona was moved to do something when she took in the problems other mothers faced. Sumona has also received Harvard-IITD-Tata Trusts social innovation grant of Rs five lakh for development of a preeclampsia detection kit.
Ashfaq Ashraf C: He is working on an online platform aimed at improving the availability of blood with the enhanced supply chain logistics, during postpartum hemorrhage or bleeding. The platform will map the blood banks along with their availability and supply of blood in the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) and predict the blood demand at different facility levels as per the expected delivery date (EDD). An M.Tech graduate in clinical engineering from IIT Madras, Ashfaq earlier has worked as a consultant with National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC).
Anurag Kumar Kyal: He is developing a hydrogel-based, slow-release iron jelly candy, which would serve as an alternative for iron/folic acid (IFA) and Vitamin C tablets. It will enhance iron absorption to a great extent reducing anemia in pregnant mothers. He is an M.Tech in biotechnology and a DST-Lockheed Martin gold medal winner. His interest lies in developing interventions in accessibility, monitoring, communications, IoT and consumer acceptance. Recently, he received the MSME grant to commercialise one of his innovations.
Evaluation criteria of KIIT-TBI
- Self-motivated with passion, purpose and commitment to apply skills and knowledge to create social impact.
- Demonstrated experience that shows that they are resilient and are in the process to demonstrate their leadership abilities.
- Clarity of thought, constant quench for knowledge and a penchant for constant discovery.
With an aim to scientifically validate their product offerings by publications in peer-reviewed journals and market analysis and surveys, we are hopeful that they will contribute to the overall upliftment of maternal and child health and contribute in reducing the mortality and morbidity of millions,” said Mrutyunjay. He added that other social innovators who wish to apply would be evaluated primarily based on the TBI’s evaluation criteria.
KIIT-TBI will further facilitate follow-on funding from various other government sources for developing a proof-of-concept of the innovation. KIIT-TBI will also be establishing a vertical to promote social innovations with assistance from Technology Development Board (TDB) and Department of International Development (DFID), supported by Villgro Foundation.