As India Inc pitches in with funding and supporting solutions to cope with the coronavirus (COVID-19), Marico Innovation Foundation and IKP Knowledge Park have come forward to support innovative and cost-effective solutions. Former has launched project 'Innovate@BeatCOVID', a nationwide hunt for cost-effective ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while latter, a not-for-profit, section-8 company, has announced COVID-19 I-CO Fund. It has already committed Rs 2 crore to fund up to eight innovations.
Innovate@BeatCOVID seeks innovators and entrepreneurs in the med-tech industry to come up with quickly scalable solutions for making ventilators, other respiratory solutions and PPEs. Marico Innovation Foundation has set in motion the project along with A.T.E Chandra Foundation run by Amit Chandra, Vice-Chairperson, Marico Innovation Foundation. Mario Chairman Harsh Mariwala has also made personal contribution.
"We have announced contest for innovating in the area of developing solutions for ventilators, other respiratory solutions and PPEs as there could be a shortage of all these in the Indian market. We need people to either give an idea or commercialise an idea in a time-bound manner as we will need these very quickly. The solutions will need to be operationalised very quickly and also be affordable because India cannot afford very expensive solutions. For this, we have allocated a sum of Rs 2.5 crore. We expect to get the responses over the next 10 to 15 days," said Mariwala.
Priya Kapadia, who heads the Marico Innovation Foundation, added that they are looking for either ready-to-scale innovations or innovations, with minimal modifications that can achieve large-scale impact. "It could be existing innovative solutions that can be modified and scaled immediately also. The applications will be vetted by a jury headed by Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar, Governing Council Chairperson of the Marico Innovation Foundation."
Marico Innovation Foundation was founded by Harsh Mariwala in 2003 with an aim to work closely with innovative and impactful ventures across sectors. The COVID-19 I-CO Fund by IKP, a premier science park and incubator in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, is focussed on identifying and fast-tracking technology-driven solutions from entrepreneurs that can be deployed to control COVID-19.
"COVID-19 I-CO Fund will offer an initial seed funding of Rs 2 crore to fund up to eight innovations. The focus is not just on blue sky research but also on quick deliverable and scalable solutions that can be rolled out in 14 days," says Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CEO IKP Knowledge Park. "Under this, the goal is to select entrepreneurs, fine-tune their solutions for manufacturing, and connect with manufacturing facilities and supply-chain networks to help in the production, deployment and distribution of their innovations," she adds.
The last date for submitting the proposals is April 3 and the applications will be vetted on April 5. Solutions should begin to deliver by April 21. Solutions are being sought in areas such as screening tests (home-based and community-based), diagnostics - from affordable Point of Care Diagnostic kits to reagents and safe methods of sample collection; equipment such as ventilators and PPEs. The financial assistance will be 50 per cent grant, and 50 per cent returnable capital with simple interest of 5 per cent per annum over 36 months. IKP Knowledge Park, which has been around for over two decades, has so far supported over 600 companies with 90 per cent of them being start ups.