The world is going through an unprecedented health crisis that is putting everything under the sky at stake. As the rising COVID-19 cases scare hospitals and healthcare workers with insufficient ventilators, the need of the hour is to ensure the availability of three main utilities of medical ventilators - electricity, oxygen, and medical air.
While the government has assured the supply of electricity, it is the responsibility of medtech companies to come forward and supply the other two elements.
Ahmedabad-based Technik Spirits is one such company manufacturing medical air, vacuum, and oxygen systems. It is currently manufacturing on-site medical oxygen generators and medical air systems.
Founded by Siddharth Rajvanshi in 2018, Technik Spirits has sold around 10 systems till now, and is waiting for the approval of its patent rights.
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How does it operate?
Medical gases are crucial for any life support system. In other words, the ventilator will not be able to operate without medical oxygen and medical air.
“The technology we have developed for medical air is a true innovation. It is a modular and integrated design called ‘Integrex’. Integrex uses 50 percent electricity, generates 70 percent less noise and vibrations, and requires just 80 percent of space compared to the traditional systems available in the market. All the above features are very crucial from the operational point of view in the current times,” explains Siddharth.
The traditional system usually requires about six to eight hours to assemble on-site. As the components are huge, they need to be individually transported and assembled on site. But Technik Spirit’s system is an all integrated construction where the entire system is built at the factory and transported to the sites.
According to Siddharth, normally medical oxygen cylinder is usually delivered to the hospitals in the form of cylinders which are cumbersome to manage. Onsite medical oxygen generators provide a viable and cost effective alternate to the hospitals through which they can generate their own oxygen supply. The technology is relatively simple and essentially separates the 21 percent oxygen in the atmospheric air and delivers it further.
Existing healthcare facilities would have these systems installed already, but a requirement would arise at all the new isolation centres being built around.
Onsite medical gas generators can be a game-changer in this situation for the isolation wards to be built in Tier III and Tier IV cities, where otherwise transporting and managing a steady supply of medical oxygen cylinders is a logistic challenge.
The startup has a team of six people on its payroll, and gets about three other workers on a contract basis. However, the team usually starts developing the system once it gets the order and don’t usually stock up.
“Building a hospital is a long process. So, we would get about three to four months in between to secure the purchase order from them and the final installation. We would have basic raw materials and everything in place or the sub-assemblies in place, but the final assembly starts once we get the order,” adds Siddharth.
The company makes money by charging hospitals for selling and installing these systems. While the cost depends upon the capacity, it is usually priced around Rs 5 to 6 lakh, excluding taxes, for a system which can cater to five ventilators simultaneously. The bigger system costs up to Rs 12- 13 lakh.
It also provides services such as onsite repairing, maintenance, optimisation, integration, etc. Siddharth claims his company is the only one in India at present which is focussed entirely on the onsite medical gas generators.
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The entrepreneur’s journey
An engineering dropout, Siddharth joined his father’s business immediately after college as that was the only option available to him then.
His father was into the manufacturing of compressors, which constitutes a major part of what a medical air system is. Siddharth used to initially handle sales and marketing at his company.
“During that tenure, I came to realise a lot of problems associated with the current traditional system. One of them is noise. Medical air systems are otherwise the noisiest equipment in a hospital, which is on the other hand a quiet setting. Eventually I started a separate company with an intention of providing a more efficient and comprehensive solution for medical gases.”
It took almost three years for Siddharth to finish its R&D. Once the entire idea was formulated, he started product trials. The first trial was done during December 2017. Once it was ready for commercialisation, he applied for a patent.
“It has been close to two years, and we have sold 10 systems so far across Gujarat. We installed in and around Gujarat as it is easier for us to reach there in case any issue arises with the system. Since it directly deals with life, we wanted to take it slow, and are currently focussing on expansion slowly and in an organic manner,” says Siddharth.
Siddharth currently oversees channel expansion, product evolution, core process designing as well as supporting turnkey hospital projects for Medical Gas Pipeline System (MGPS) and their source equipment at the company.
He is also involved with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), having been incubated at CrAdLE as a registered startup. Additionally, he is an active member and exhibitor at multiple medical, pharma, and manufacturing at national and state conferences.
Investment and future plans
A MarketsandMarkets report forecasts the global medical gases and equipment market to grow from $14.83 billion in 2018 to $20.04 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 6.2 percent.
Siddharth says, he has invested around Rs 25 lakh with the help of family and friends to commercialise the air system. The team also got a grant from CrAdLE. However, the company is not looking for any external funding right now.
The team is further developing a combined system that generates both medical air and oxygen from a single unit, and is planning to launch it next year.
When asked about expansion, Siddharth says, “Finding the right people to sell and service medical equipment will always be a challenge in our country. We are taking it slow. We are rather keen to find the right people than just expanding for the sake of it.”
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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