[Tech30] How BendFlex is looking to revolutionise everyday activities by marrying mech and techPrateeksha Nayak
NIT alumni Ramnath Babu T J and Santosh Bhargav D B worked with Prof. G. K. Ananthasuresh while pursuing their PhD at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. While working on multiple ideas and academic digressions, the duo discovered that their wavelengths matched and got together to build BendFlex Research and Development Pvt Ltd in early 2014.
Our lab is a cross-disciplinary lab working at the intersection of diverse domains, and our professor is a pioneer in the compliant mechanisms design paradigm. Through our PhD, we have developed a number of applications using the complaint mechanisms paradigm. This pushed us to explore the idea of taking our “inventions” to the next logical level and commercialise it.
say the founders
BendFlex specialises in designing devices using a novel design paradigm called compliant mechanisms. Compliant mechanisms are monolithic, scalable, whose stiffness can be tuned and can double-up as force sensors.
An IP-aggressive company, BendFlex has already filed for three patents with more underway.
The products awaiting patents include:
- The Compliant Mechanism innovator toolkit is designed and developed by researchers from IISC, Bengaluru, to help students and hobbyists explore the world of mechanisms. Priced at Rs 1499 for the starter kit and Rs 2499 for the full edition, the company has already sold about 20-30 kits.
- Micron is a micro-newton force sensor that is used for a diverse range of applications. Micron is now finding its way into the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) industry for improved efficiency.
- Micro grippers that immobilise and palpate biological cells.
- CUTT, a portable, immersible, low-cost tissue testing device which is a compliant mechanism-based uni-axial tissue tester.
- Forceps - Clamp-based forceps and tweezers
BendFlex is pioneering the concept of using the mechanical properties of individual biological cells in medical diagnostics. Having worked on two products already, the company’s current focus is on a device that will revolutionise the way that IVF is done.
Infertility is on the rise owing to increasing stress and change in lifestyle conditions. With about a few thousand embryologists catering to 27.5 million infertile couples in India, there is a significant demand-supply imbalance. BendFlex aims to reduce this imbalance through its patent-pending technology called RoboICSI, which uses ‘compliant mechanisms’ to improve outcomes in the IVF industry. RoboICSI is yet to go live.
It is a zero-to-one idea along the lines of Peter Thiel's book employing world-class cutting edge technology towards improving the outcomes in IVF.
BendFlex plans to monetise its technology through sales of its device on a one-time basis and through recurring sales of consumables and has made a revenue of 15-20 lakhs since beginning operations, a year and half ago. The company is incubated at the Bangalore Bio-Innovation Centre, an initiative of the Karnataka government for supporting bio-tech startups.
The founders say that through state-of-the-art R&D, they are currently looking at doing world-class research and become a part of the Unicorn club. Through multiple innovations, they want to build something like 3M from India.
When asked about what does it mean to be part of Tech 30,
We are thrilled to be a part of the Tech30 exclusive club, who has a lot of trust in us. This pushes us to set the bars even higher. Networking is everything today and events like these are the much-needed platform for making those crucial connections happen and achieving some much needed outreach.
BendFlex is a technology incubator that specialises in designing devices. With research and innovation at its core, if BendFlex can commercialise its products well, it can make a mark in the world of design. The company is innovating in sectors which require it the most and as one of the early players to come up with deep tech solutions, they are definite to have an edge over other players. What is also interesting to note is how the company is working successfully with govt and producing some noteworthy results.