Around the time the Make in India movement was taking off in the country, global wireless technology giant Qualcomm launched the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge. Since 2016, this has been one of the flagship incubation programmes for innovative hardware startups in India. In this duration, the programme has incubated 49 startups and helped them file over 75 patents. Some of startups incubated under Qualcomm Design in Challenge in the earlier editions include startups like Carnot Technologies, Uncanny Vision, iFuture Robotics, Steradian Semiconductor and Tagbox Solutions, which today have become some of the leading startups in the Indian IoT hardware sector.
“Four years ago, Qualcomm wanted to do something for India and thought of helping startups. That thought took the shape of the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge, which has today metamorphosed into a larger initiative called the Qualcomm Design in India Program. The challenge itself is one of the key components of the programme and looks at identifying and supportive innovative IoT hardware startups. The first edition in 2016 saw 300 startups applying. At that time, we never thought it would grow in scale and impact as it has today,” said Rajen Vagadia, VP and President, Qualcomm India.
Rajen was sharing an overview about the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge with Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) at a meet-and-greet session for 10 startups selected as the finalists of the 2019 edition of Qualcomm Design in India Challenge.
At this exclusive event held on July 4 New Delhi, Rajen spoke about how Qualcomm is leveraging its three decades of expertise in wireless technology to give back to the ecosystem by nurturing innovative startups in India, and accelerating their product development journey with technology, mentorship and ecosystem support. The first three editions of the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge had seen participation from 900 startups from India’s growing IoT hardware ecosystem
"We have been fairly satisfied with what we accomplished in the last three years, and are now figuring out how we can further enhance the programme and add value to the startups," said Rajen.
Qualcomm Design in India Challenge is one of the four initiatives that are part of its larger Design in India initiative, the others being the Design services via the Qualcomm Innovation Lab, Accelerated Design Program (engagement with its licensed customers) and Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (engagement with the academic research community).
At the event, the 10 startups were awarded $10,000 each as prize money. The startups also got an opportunity to engage in a dialogue and share their concerns with Ramesh Abhishek and Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO, Invest India. These concerns spanned from heavy import and customs duties on equipment to more flexible laws, help with state-level connections, grants, and the need to focus more on hardware startups in the country.
Responding to these concerns, the DIPP Secretary shared how his department was working to solve them and assured the startups of continued government support. "Tell us about your concerns, give us feedback, share ideas, and we will try to support the startup ecosystem. We are also constantly learning about what needs to be done. The basic idea is to connect companies, people, startups, promote a dialogue between them and the government and regulators, develop a mechanism to connect with more people and reduce the communication gap and trust deficit which have existed traditionally," he said.
Here are the 10 finalists of the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge
1. ADAPT Ideations
This Mumbai-based Internet of things (IoT) startup is known for its revolutionary products, platform and expertise in blockchain, mechatronics, embedded intelligence and data analytics. With KELVIN, a high sensitivity asset tracker and monitor, designed for the food and pharmaceutical industry, companies can digitally track and get better visibility into their temperature-sensitive consignments. It also allows them to detect if the package has been opened or tampered with en route.
2. Antariksh Waste Ventures
The Hyderabad-based startup is focused on digitising the waste disposal and recycling management ecosystem in India with smart IoT-powered garbage bins that have load and communication modules. Their solution addresses the needs of different stakeholders in the waste management process by providing fill levels across bins to city admins, local cleanup alerts to citizens, offering skill development for sanitation workers, task, equipment and people management features for sanitation supervisors and waste-mapping and delivery services for enabling the growing recycling industry
3. Arcapsis Techno-solutions
Bangalore-based Arcapsis is an IoT and cloud-based healthcare systems company which combines the electronic, mechanical and software aspects of healthcare products. Arcapsis’s flagship product Xpert-Haler is a high-end, IoT-enabled connected device, which enables strict adherence for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients. The device is powered by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. It provides better insights into probable reasons for asthma attacks and predictions for asthma flareups while preventing overdoses.
4. Blackfrog Technologies
This product development and consultancy firm from the coastal town of Kundapur in Karnataka, provides engineering design and prototyping solutions for small instruments, auxiliary equipment (mechanical and electronic) and industrial automation, and is focused on the biomedical domain. One of their flagship products is Sanjivani – a portable vaccine carrier. The battery-powered cooling device facilitates more efficient delivery of vaccines and other biologicals like blood, tissue and culture samples.
5. Biodesign Innovation Labs
This international team of designers, engineers, doctors and industry experts are working on a life-saving medical device that offers a more affordable and portable alternative to prolonged manual ventilation. Called RespirAID, the mechanical ventilation and auto-resuscitation device helps reduce morbidities caused by a shortage of ventilators in low-resource settings.
6. Detect Technologies
Headquartered in Chennai, this industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) startup creates intelligent asset monitoring and inspection solutions. Its sensor technology, drone technology, image processing, and machine learning algorithms focus on improving operational efficiencies for industries, especially the oil and gas industry, by helping them enhance monitoring, and increasing the safety and accuracy of assets. Their products such as GUMPS (Guided Ultrasonic Monitoring Pipelines System) have been designed to simplify decision-making by offering smart monitoring and providing real-time insights about assets, especially inaccessible assets like pipelines. The system is capable of detecting defects being formed and their growth rates.
7. Elear Solutions
This technology products company from Hyderabad is committed to bringing visionary connected experiences that empower businesses and enrich people's lives through its innovative hardware, software and internet offerings. The startup has created COCO – a consumer IoT platform enabling data privacy for OEMs and app developers.
8. Grinntech Motors & Services
Founded in early 2013 and incubated at IIT-Madras in 2017, Grinntech Motors & Services Private Limited is India’s leading lithium battery technology provider. With some major battery manufacturers licensing Grinntech’s technologies and solutions, the company is paving a way for electric vehicles and stationary energy storage to go mainstream. One of its key offerings is an integrated battery management solution that can log usage data points and help analyse battery performance. Their offering can be used to analyse data from both Grinntech’s products as well as battery packs and battery management systems from other providers as well. Grinntech’s battery management solutions provide visibility into the root cause of battery-related issues that disrupt operations, and eat away into a company’s profits.
9. Health Arx Technologies Private Limited,
Health Arx Technologies is known for its key offering – BeatO - a full stack condition management platform currently focused on diabetes. The solution combines hardware (a BeatO smartphone connected glucometer) with the BeatO App to support end-to-end management of the condition. The BeatO App ecosystem is a complete solution to meet the daily needs of a diabetic – ranging from blood glucose monitoring, to management (doctor consultations and nutritionists), rich content (educational videos, recipes etc.), medication, diagnostics, and specially curated foods designed for diabetics.
10. Ubifly Technologies Private Limited
The Chennai startup is pioneering aerial mobility. Their flagship product, Ek Hanz, is a compact autonomous electric aerial vehicle, with a mileage of 100 kmph, that can take off from anywhere and can be used to deliver items that may be needed in medical emergencies. It is completely autonomous and needs no piloting or supervision as it can smartly avoid any obstacles in real time while in flight. The startup believes that the healthcare industry will accelerate into the future with Ek Hanz enabling the supply of organs, blood, vaccines, and drugs to remote locations or in traffic-clogged cities almost instantaneously. The startup also has plans to build a bigger vehicle with larger lifting capacity as well as air taxis in the next five years.
Over six months of incubation, Qualcomm will help these 10 startups extend their design capabilities by giving them access to the Qualcomm Innovation Lab, evaluation kits and development boards, along with tools to optimise camera, audio, display features. In addition, the startups also have a chance to win anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 at the grand finale later this year.