Even as the world races against times to save lives and find cure for the deadly COVID-19 virus, Indian start-up ecosystem is uniting in the fight against coronavirus. From start-up founders, venture capitalists to family offices and investment bankers, all are coming together in unusual ways to help find quick and scalable solutions.
- VCs earmark separate funds to COVID-19 solutions
- Investment bankers chip in with expertise without fees
The Action Covid Team (ACT) Grants, a Rs 100 crore collective grant fund from leading VC funds such as Sequoia, Light speed, Nexus, Matrix partners and start-up industry leaders such as Nandan Nilekani, Ritesh Agarwal, Vijay Shekar Sharma, Kunal Shah, Kiran Shaw, among others, has been specifically earmarked for projects directly related to combating covid-19 with the ability to have an immediate impact. Start-up ideas that are quickly actionable and scalable in the areas of prevention of spread of COVID-19, scaling of testing for the virus, disease management at homes, support to healthcare workers and critically-ill patients are being considered for funding under the grant.
Ravi Gururaj, President TiE Bangalore said, "This is a terrific initiative to deliver critical solutions speedily at scale by tapping into India's best technology founders, teams and technology." The fund has raised Rs 70 crore till now and invested in two start-ups namely Founders vs Covid (Rs 25 Lakhs) and Mylabs (Rs 1 crore).
Omidyar Network India had earlier announced a Rs 7.5 crore Rapid Response Funding Initiative to fight the pandemic. The investment firm has released a collective fund of Rs 1 crore to 20 grassroots civil society organisations to deal with the problems faced by migrant workers and their families. Omidyar Network India's Managing Director, Roopa Kudva said, "Collaboration is the need of the hour to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The civil society organizations in this collective work across 12 states have deep rural networks and can provide strong support to government efforts."
Even investment banking community is rising to the occasion by providing their services without fees. For instance, Bexley Advisors' initiative 'The COVID-19 Action Fund' helps innovators reach VCs quickly and effectively. The company has dedicated a quarter of its resources to rapidly create investment materials for select entrepreneurs and also waive off its engagement fees for the duration of the crisis. Utkarsh Sinha, Managing Director of Bexley Advisors said, "In times like this there is huge tendency of fund flows to freeze. Hence, this is exactly the time that enablers like us have to make sure the flow happens and people working towards it can have the impact that they need to have."
Under the Startup India initiative, the Department For Promotion Of Industry And Internal Trade has also announced a challenge. It has called for start-ups to submit their technology solutions and solutions for precautionary as well as treatment-related interventions by April 15.