Meet the 5 medtech startups focusing on affordable diagnostic solutions to keep India in the pink of health
Healthcare companies are riding India’s startup boom. One of the country’s fastest growing sectors, India’s healthcare industry is expected to reach $372 billion by 2022, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).
The IBEF report says the country has also become “one of the leading destinations for high-end diagnostic services with tremendous capital investment for advanced diagnostic facilities, thus catering to a greater proportion of population”.
With the diversified Indian healthcare sector presenting myriad opportunities in every segment, including providers, payers and medical technology, the stage is set for further growth. In this scenario, a large number of medtech startups are working on diagnostic solutions and preventive healthcare.
Here’s a list of five medtech startups that are harnessing technologies like AI and Internet of Things (IoT) to change India’s healthcare landscape, in urban India and Bharat.
Founded in March 2017, Kochi-based startup Bagmo addresses the lack of blood availability in rural India, which often leads to death during pregnancy. It has developed a blood bag monitoring device, Bagmo, which monitors the temperature of blood bags during transportation and storage.
Every blood donation is entered on the cloud platform, after which it is tested and the components (plasma, blood cells, and platelets) are stored in separate bags. The B2B company aims to reduce wastage at blood storage centres, and improve logistics and communication issues.
A radio frequency identification (RFID) card is attached to each bag, and the unique ID and the refrigerator that stores the bag is stored in the cloud. In case of blood requirement, the hospital/individual needs to enter the details in the cloud after which Bagmo, or the 'Blood bAG MOnitoring' device, reveals which bag is fit for use and in which refrigerator it has been stored.
Founded by Ashfaq Ashraf and his friends, Anas Dalinatakam and Arshad KA, Bagmo received Rs 47 lakh funds from BIRAC, under the biotech ignition grant.
Prantae Solutions is a Bhubaneshwar-based biotech startup born out of Founder Sumona Karjee Mishra’s experience of suffering from a pregnancy disorder called preeclampsia. The startup develops devices and diagnostic solutions, mainly for pregnancy related healthcare.
Founder Sumona Karjee Mishra with her daughter Shravya
It has developed four products so far. These include EyeRa, for early detection of preeclampsia; ProFolU, to monitor kidney health; Salubrious, which provides a solution for hidden hunger; and Embargo, which can detect antibiotics in food products.
Sumona earned her PhD from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her startup has filed 11 trademarks; nine of them have been sanctioned. Last year, Prantae Solutions received the CII-IPR Award under the ‘Startup’ category for life sciences for best trademark portfolio.
Waferchips Techno Solutions
Kollam-based Waterchips is challenging the stereotype that most innovation in the healthcare sector comes from metro cities. One of the 10 Indian startups to participate in SLUSH, a startup event held in Finland in 2017, it has developed a wearable Electrocardiography (ECG) device called Biocalculus.
A Biocalculus device
Founded by Archu S Vijay and Sonia Mohandas, the startup was registered in February 2016.
Its flagship device can be easily used by anyone – it needs to only be attached to the patient’s chest, using an adhesive patch.
It transfers data to an Android application via Bluetooth. If a smartphone is not available, it will store the data up to a month of recording.
The device uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate a clinically actionable report for further diagnosis and treatment. Currently a B2B product, Biocalculus is under pilot study at four hospitals in Kerala. Waferchips plans to price the device at Rs 35,000 for hospitals.
Bengaluru-based Janitri Innovations is focusing on pregnancy healthcare with Keyar, a non-invasive cardiotocography (CTG) device that can monitor the heart rate of a baby in the mother’s womb and track uterine contractions of pregnant woman. The mother wears the device, and the data is transmitted to a mobile application.
An artist's impression of Keyar
Unlike other similar devices, Keyar is portable, non-invasive, and easy to use. The IoT-enabled device runs on ordinary batteries and can be easily used in remote areas where the traditional, bulky equipment is either unavailable or unaffordable.
The performance of the device, when tested against the gold standard CTG machine at St John’s Medical Hospital in Bengaluru, was equivalent to the gold standard.
A graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Founder Arun Agarwal in 2015 took part in the Social Innovation Immersion Programme (SIIP) Fellowship, which was organised by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). He started Janitri Innovations in 2016.
Founded in 2018, Kolkata-based medtech startup EzeRx is building affordable, non-invasive solutions for early diagnosis of chronic diseases.
The startup’s first product, AJO, which stands for anaemia, jaundice, and oxygen saturation, is a non-invasive, IoT-enabled device that tests for anaemia, liver, and lung-related medical problems without any blood work and for less than Re 1.
EzeRx's non-invasive, contactless device for testing for anemia, lung and liver-related health problems
The user-friendly device does not require medical knowledge or expertise to operate. Once the test is completed, the result can be transferred by email or text message within 0.5 to 1.5 seconds.
The device cleared clinical trials at NRS Medical College, Kolkata, with high accuracy.
EzeRX, which stands for ‘Easy for prescription’, aims to make the adoption of preventive healthcare approach more appealing and accessible for Indians by providing easy, affordable, diagnostic solutions,
Incubated at KIIT-TBI, EzeRx received the Department of Biotechnology’s BIRAC Biotechnology Ignition Grant. It also received funding from Villgro's INVENT and Indian Oil Corporation.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)