Startups, VCs, MPs, corporates offer 308 innovations in the first COVID-19 National Action Group video call

In the first meeting of Parliamentarians with Innovators (PI India) COVID-19 Action Group that took place via a video conference on Wednesday, close to 308 solutions across health, public provisions, and income for the poor were proposed.

Startups, VCs, MPs, corporates offer 308 innovations in the first COVID-19 National Action Group video call

Thursday April 16, 2020,

5 min Read

In the first meeting of Parliamentarians with Innovators (PI India) COVID-19 Action Group that took place via a video conference on Wednesday, different innovations and solutions were discussed. 

An active community of over 500 experts and innovators came together on LinkedIn to build solutions, and close to 308 solutions were submitted within a week. These solutions are across health, public provisions, food and income help for poor.  Leaders across 12 states and 10 political parties covering both houses of Parliament were present at the session. 

A press statement said Ghanshyam Tiwari, National Coordinator of PI India, moderated the discussion with a brief introduction of the collective mission. 


The push by startups 

Startups like San Francisco-based ride-hailing company Uber, the home services platform Urban Company, and the e-grocery startup Perpule, also presented some of their solutions. 

The proposals include a fully tested and scalable telemedicine solution by Karma Healthcare, a crowdfunding solution named led by MPs to support the migrants and families in distress; and a working solution called StoreSe by Perpule towards making essential provisions available at doorsteps of apartment complexes.

Uber also presented solutions that the company is providing towards hospital drops, transport of essentials, and mobility for the healthcare workers. 

Abhiraj Bahl, Founder and CEO of the Urban Company, spoke about the solutions they are creating for the 30,000 skilled workforce on their platform and the way these solutions can become a general industry standard in terms of health, protection, sanitation, and financial support for the workers. 

Political push 

Briefing the National Action Group, Yamini Aiyar, President, Centre for Policy Research, spoke about the need for more testing, agile inventory management at the State level, and making sure that migrant workers and those unable to access banking can get their entitlements and support. 

Poonam Muttreja, Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI), spoke about the need to find solutions that fight misconceptions, superstitions and help change mindset and behaviour. She added that systems need to cater to other diseases as well as maternal health. 

PFI is already offering Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh in grants to non-profits and developing communication campaigns on the need for family planning support. PI India team presented five solutions for discussions in the action group.

The press statement added Members of Parliament also discussed ways to enable the solutions that emerge from the PI India call for solutions as well as shared the problems faced by people that they have encountered. Congress MP Manish Tewari called upon the venture industry and other funds to boost research and trials on promising drug therapies or vaccines. 

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi committed to supporting solutions that can work towards improving mobility as well as support any viable way that helps the migrant workers. 

Sujeet Kumar, BJD Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, spoke about the plight of more than 20 lakh migrant workers from Odisha across the country and the way Odisha government is using the help of the Odiya community to provide food and other basic provisions to those who are stranded. He said that he will enable any effective solution that can be piloted or implemented in Odisha and make available the District Mineral Fund (DMF) to tackle COVID-19 across non-DMF districts or even at the state level. 

VC and corporate push 

The statement added different VCs and corporates offered support through logistics teams: 

Rajan Anandan, who is the Managing Director of Sequoia Capital, and Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Founder InfoEdge), spoke of the projects that they are funding and supporting through the Action COVID Team (ACT) initiative. Their firms are supporting Zomato and Grofers utilising their distribution service for reaching essential workers and others in need. They lay emphasis that the focus should be given to essential and healthcare workers: ambulance drivers, nurse protection through PPE use and equipment development. Abhinav Chaturvedi, Partner at Accel, said that ACT Fund will be able to provide grants to projects and adopt them at a rapid pace and help to be taken through the PII forum.”

Kartik Desai, Executive Director - Asha Impact (an impact investing and policy advocacy organisation), addressed several issues faced in community support and education to the bottom-of-the-pyramid. 

“The focus should be given to community support, education through voice, Indian language reach. This can be done through SMS alerts, voice messages in different languages and making all govt schemes readily available. Several such VCs have come together through firms and in their personal capacity to enable better support between MPs, ACT team and PI India workforce,” he said in the statement. 

Dr Himanshu Rai, Director of IIM Indore, spoke about the need to ensure that the messenger and the message need to have the highest level of integrity when communicating about the massive crisis. Dr Sonali Vaid, Healthcare Improvement Advisor and consultant - WHO, addressed the need to try rapid small scale experiments for seemingly large issues (lakhs of migrants movement). 

Mohammed Ather, Senior Partner at PWC, and Dr Amir Khan from ISB, brought the focus to solutions that enable workers who would need to get back to work in the industrial clusters that may open as well as those who need to still reach their villages. 

The next meeting of PI India will take place on April 22, 2020. 

“The PI India team will ensure that every Member of Parliament is able to work with at least one innovator team with effective solutions every week. The goal is to enable at least ten solutions every week in different states and districts across the country. There is a strong commitment from MPs to leverage and impact the National Action Group in the fight against COVID-19,” said the press statement.  

Edited by Kanishk Singh