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Tata Trusts-backed India Health Fund to promote start-ups developing means to fight diseases like COVID-19

IHF is already nurturing about six ventures related to Malaria and Tuberculosis and has identified another six for seed funding and nurturing to become scalable commercial business ventures

twitter-logoPB Jayakumar | June 13, 2020 | Updated 03:07 IST
Tata Trusts-backed India Health Fund to promote start-ups developing means to fight diseases like COVID-19

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • India Health Fund, a joint funding initiative of the Tata Trusts and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • It promotes start-ups with novel platform technologies for diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases
  • Nurturing about six start-ups working on tuberculosis and malaria, plans to expand it to COVID-19 innovations
  • Identifies six such new innovations with scalable business models
The India Health Fund, a collaborative healthcare funding initiative of the Tata Trusts and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is planning to promote start-ups developing technologies in the area of infectious diseases in India and abroad, by raising and investing over Rs 2,000 crores in the next 4-5 years.

"COVID-19 is an eye opener to create an ecosystem and scalable platform technologies for diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases. We were so far concentrating on malaria and tuberculosis and will soon work with the government agencies, national and international foundations and private corporations to raise funds targeting a corpus of about Rs 2,000 crore in the coming years to invest in technologies related to infectious diseases like COVID-19", Madhav Joshi, CEO of India Health Fund told Business Today.

He said IHF is already nurturing about six ventures related to Malaria and Tuberculosis and has identified another six for seed funding and nurturing to become scalable commercial business ventures. The strategy is to identify innovative solutions, promote them as business ventures with private sector expertise, finance and pooling of resources.

The IHF seed funded Goa-based Molbio Diagnostics innovated a world's first portable real time PCR diagnostics kit for Tuberculosis and it has been fine tuned for COVID-19 screening. Similarly, Qure.ai, a Mumbai-based startup in which IHF invested, has been developing AI tools to diagnose lung abnormalities. Its chest X-ray tool, qXR, is now being used in COVID-19 patient monitoring in many hospitals.

Another company, Valetude Primus Healthcare invented a device that has made the collection of sputum faster and more efficient in diagnosing tuberculosis. Sensedose Technologies developed a device, Tuberculosis Monitoring Encouragement Adherence Drive (TMEAD), which sends alarms and digital notifications to patients with presorted and pre-filled prescribed medicines to ensure TB patients take medicines properly and at correct intervals. IHF is now looking at such novel solutions to existing threats posed by tuberculosis, malaria and other vector-borne diseases, which can be potentially adapted for COVID-19, said Madhav Joshi.

Started in 2017, IHF has also partnered with organisations like the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), C-CAMP, Social Alfa, Stop TB Alliance, Rollback Malaria, ICMR and several other government and voluntary agencies.

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