Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 26, 2021)
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have assured India and its people of providing all assistance, including urgently sending necessary medical life-saving supplies and equipment, to help the country combat the deadly coronavirus crisis. “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Biden said in a tweet.
The Biden administration is working round the clock to provide urgent assistance to India in its fight against the deadly COVID-19, including identification and immediate availability of sources for raw materials urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine, the White House said on Sunday.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his Microsoft counterpart Satya Nadella on Monday took to micro-blogging site Twitter to assure their support to India, as the country battles the second deadly wave of COVID-19. Both the Indian-American tech bosses grew up in India, Sundar in Chennai and Satya in Hyderabad.
Amazon India on Sunday said it has joined hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR), and other partners to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore. All the organisations are working closely with the Indian government to expedite the entry of these oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines into the country, Amazon said in a blogpost.
The government on Sunday said it had directed all major ports to waive all charges for ships carrying oxygen and related equipment amid a massive surge in COVID-19 infections across the country. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways said it had directed all major ports to accord the highest priority in the berthing sequence to vessels carrying consignments of medical grade oxygen, oxygen tanks, oxygen bottles, portable oxygen generators, and oxygen concentrators.
Linde Group and the Tata Group have sourced 24 cryogenic oxygen tanks to help augment oxygen delivery in the fight against COVID, the German firm's India unit said. “To respond to the national urgency, Linde India has joined hands with Tata group and Government of India to undertake measures to augment the availability of LMO across the country,” it said.
upGrad on Monday said it had raised $ 120 million (about Rs 897.3 crore) from Singapore-based Temasek, making this the first external fund-raise by the edtech major. upGrad plans to use the fresh capital to further strengthen its team, scale its global market operations and bolster its technology and product capabilities, a statement said.
Bizongo, a B2B platform for made-to-order goods, on Monday said it has completed a $51 million fresh funding exercise, with investments from the British government's development finance body CDC and Thailand-based Addventures, a corporate arm of SCG. Apart from the equity investments, the Mumbai-based company has also raised debt from Strides, Trifecta Capital, Tradecred, and IDFC First Bank, the B2B ecommerce player said.
Lead School, the Mumbai based edtech startup has raised $30 million in Series D funding round led by global VC fund GSV Ventures along with WestBridge Capital, an existing investor. The latest funding round will be used by Lead School to accelerate growth by building a pan-India brand, rollout of new product offerings, strategic acquisitions and hiring top talent across domains.
Paytm on Monday said it had launched a video-based investing community on its Paytm Money app to allow users to attend live sessions held by capital market experts, learn how to invest, and discuss new trends, among other things.
Varun Sridhar, CEO of Paytm Money
Paytm on Monday said it aims to raise Rs 10 crore and import 3,000 oxygen concentrators for government and private hospitals, COVID-19 care centres, NGOs, and resident welfare associations, as part of its initiative called 'Oxygen for India'. The fintech giant has invited its users to donate money on its platform, and said it will match each contribution made, rupee for rupee.
MapmyIndia offers free GPS tracking to transport critical medical infra and widget for locating vaccination centres
Indian navigation and telematics company MapmyIndia on Sunday said it will be installing GPS tracking systems for free in transport vehicles carrying oxygen, vaccines, hospital beds, and other medical infrastructure to ensure their smooth, quick, and interrupted movement.
Drug major Natco Pharma on Monday said it has sought approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) in India for the Phase III clinical trial of Molnupiravir capsules for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. CDSCO is responsible for the approval of drugs, the conduct of clinical trials, laying down the standards for drugs, control over the quality of imported drugs in the country, and coordination of the activities of state drug control organisations.
The Karnataka government has announced a state-wide lockdown for a period of two weeks starting from April 27 save for a few sectors to combat the dangerous surge of COVID-19 pandemic cases. The capital Bengaluru joins other metros like Mumbai and New Delhi, which are already implementing such measures. The lockdown will come into effect from Tuesday, April 27, 9 pm onwards, and be extended to the next two weeks. During this period, citizens will get a four-hour window every day between 6 am and 10 am to purchase the essentials like milk, grocery, vegetables, etc.
An all-party meeting convened by the Tamil Nadu government on Monday resolved to allow Vedanta's Sterlite Industries in Tuticorin to produce oxygen for a four-month period amid surging covid cases, paving the way for the partial reopening of the copper smelter closed in 2018 over pollution concerns. The unit was sealed by the state government in May 2018, days after 13 agitators were killed in police firing during a violent anti-Sterlite protest in the southern district.
The Delhi government will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all those above 18 years of age in the city for which purchase of 1.34 crore doses has been approved, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday. The government will make efforts to speed up vaccine purchase and administering it to the people, he said in an online briefing.
India is currently focusing on finding solutions to deal with the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and several organisations, private players, governments, and institutions across the globe are extending their support to India. Tech startups from across the world are working on innovative solutions to help India overcome the crisis. California-based manufacturing and product sourcing platform Manufactured is looking to help India get access to oxygen.
Reliance Foundation has scaled up its operations in Mumbai to address the growing medical needs following a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited said in a statement. Hospitals associated with Reliance Foundation (RF) will be managing nearly 875 beds, including 145 ICU beds, across National Sports Club of India (NSCI), Seven Hills Hospital, and the Trident, BKC.
Noida-based healthtech company HealthCare atHOME (HCAH) has set up a facility equipped with oxygen concetrators by converting a hotel in Gurugram. COVID-19 positive patients who require oxygen are given assistance in this unit. HCAH was started in 2012 by Vivek Srivastava, along with Gareth Jones, Chairman of Dabur India Anand Burman; Gaurav Burman, Director of Dabur International; and Charles Walsh, Founder of Healthcare at Home UK. It is a startup that delivers healthcare services, including ICU, step-down beds, post-operative care, nursing, physiotherapy, attendant services, and elderly care.
The Commerce Ministry on Monday said it has started a COVID-19 helpdesk to help resolve issues of exporters and importers pertaining to international trade such as customs clearance delays and banking matters. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an arm of the ministry, took this initiative to monitor the status of exports and imports, and difficulties being faced by trade stakeholders in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Gurugram-based social rewards and savings platform Magicpin has formed a strategic partnership with HT Media, a leading media company in the country. Under this partnership, HT Media will drive awareness of Magicpin’s offerings, which will also include various properties of the media house.
Blackstone Group on Monday said funds managed by the private equity firm will acquire a majority stake in IT firm Mphasis Ltd, triggering an open offer for the acquisition of up to 26 percent stake for about Rs 8,262 crore. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), UC Investments (Office of the Chief Investment Officer of The Regents, University of California), and others will co-invest along with Blackstone, a statement said.
The 93rd Academy Awards was held on Monday morning, April 26. While the event was held at Los Angeles' Union Station, the special segments were broadcasted from the Dolby Theatre. Chloe Zhao and her film Nomadland continued making noise at the awards and won big at the Oscars.
Women skilling and employment platform WiT-ACE has partnered with WhatsApp and NITI Aayog’s Woman Entrepreneur Programme (WEP) to introduce StepUp to ScaleUp, an initiative to guide and mentor women entrepreneurs. It is part of WhatsApp’s effort to amplify women’s success through the campaign — See Us, Hear Us. Having received hundreds of applications so far, the first batch of the programme was kickstarted last week.