It was only in April this year, when hospitals were in dire need of ventilators that Waghmare decided to do his bit for the country by manufacturing adult ventilators. He already had the necessary components, and he was clear that he would innovate a high-end machine that would be at least 20-30 per cent lower than the price of the imported ventilators.
By end of May, Waghmare was able to create a ventilator that could be used on both adults and newborns at an affordable price-point of Rs 3.5 lakh. The ventilator has advanced technical features such as 'automatic ventilation' and also allows doctors to control both the volume of delivered air and the pressure a patient may need, a feature commonly found only in high-end expensive ventilators.
Waghmare is among the three winners (Shreeyash Electro Medicals, KPIT Technologies and Nocca Robotics ) of Marico Innovation Foundation's #InnovateToBeatCOVID challenge. Marico has not just funded Waghmare's intiaitive, it is helping him get certification from the Central Drugs Control Organisation beyond supporting him market his products.
"I have already sold 50 ventilators and I am getting a lot of enquiries," says Waghmare. Harsh Mariwala, Founder, Marico Innovation Foundation, says that the objective of the #InnovateToBeatCOVID challenge was to be able to come up with affordable ventilators in order to help India fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Each of them is one-third or one-fifth of an imported ventilator's price and they have been certified by the Government authorities, so they are highly reliable," says Mariwala. While its well known that auto manufacturer, Mahindra and Mahindra has been manufacturing ventilators, KPIT Technologies, a mid-sized company, which manufactures electronic devices for automobiles has also ventured in low-cost ventilators.
Co-Founder and Chairman of KPIT, Ravi Pandit, and his team have used their technological know-how to manufacture portable ventilators (priced between Rs 1.5-2 lakh) that can be used in ambulances, hospitals as well as in homes. Similarly, Nocca Robotics, whose core business is to offer robotic technology to the solar sector, has developed an ICU ventilator which can be used for invasive requirements. It is a turbine-based ventilator which eliminates the requirement of any compressed medical air to operate.
The ventilators also have an inbuilt battery and hence claim to be operational even if there is a power cut. "Each of these manufacturers can make about 3,000 ventilators and if I calculate the savings, the cumulative savings is in the range of Rs 500-1,000 crore. It is a huge saving compared to imported machines," points out Mariwala.
The first round of Marico Innovation Foundation's #InnovateToBeatCOVID challenge was about mask and PPEs and Mariwala says that the Foundation has been helping those manufacturers to sell their products. "We don't get any financial benefit, however, we are helping these manufacturers by connecting them with our distributors," says Mariwala. Marico has been giving out masks free with its sanitiser brand, Mediker. It has also bought over 10,000 PPE equipment.
So, are these ventilator manufacturers looking at this just as a short-term business venture? "I see this as a long-term business. Of course, the demand currently is much more than supply, but since my ventilators are 30 per cent cheaper than the imported machines, I expect a sustained demand," says Nikhil Kurele, Co-Founder, Nocca Robotics.
Mariwala is excited about the business of ventilators. "There will also be export potential as the ventilators are one-fifth the cost of the established brands and there is a huge export market."
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