Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and The National Association for Software & Services Companies (NASSCOM) in collaboration with Grand Challenges India (GCI) have launched ‘जनCARE’ a nationwide innovation challenge to discover, design and scale health-tech innovations, which work in low resource-settings especially, in rural and semi-urban environments. These innovations will be built on technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, big data and analytics, making use of telehealth platforms to enhance the access, quality and affordability of the delivery of healthcare at the last mile.
The ‘जनCARE’ challenge is supported by Grand Challenges India, a partnership framework between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India, BIRAC along with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch joint initiatives aimed at catalysing innovative health and development research within India.
The ‘जनCARE’ challenge will identify up to 25 best health tech solutions from startups/ SMEs and provide pilot testbeds in collaboration with State governments and industry to help their validation and scale-up for adoption.
Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM said, “Good and affordable healthcare should be available to everyone, with this vision in mind NASSCOM has been instrumental in helping build a deeptech enabled healthcare start-up ecosystem in the country. Through this JANCare Innovation Grand Challenge, we aim to evangelise more organisations and individuals to build specialised healthcare solutions, and democratise access to modern medicine for all.”
Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT formally declared the challenge open and said, “I am glad to see the strategic alignment between BIRAC (biotech sector) and NASSCOM (IT sector) for a joint commitment to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery at the last mile. The population of low resource areas; PHCs, CHCs in rural and semi-urban areas are likely to get benefitted through the local deployment of innovative and affordable health tech solutions. This innovation challenge would promote customised products developed by Startups/SMEs to address the local challenges and unmet needs. Active involvement of States, international partner – GCI, will boost the impact of such Atamnirbharta efforts for the benefit of society and scaling up of innovation ecosystem.”
Anju Bhalla, MD, BIRAC, mentioned, “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the debate on the rapid adoption of telemedicine and application of low-resource technologies for efficient and affordable healthcare. Keeping these developments in mind, BIRAC and NASSCOM intend to create an enabling national platform of a bouquet of validated affordable health-tech solutions for adoption by choice to ramp up healthcare facilities at tier II and III cities.”
AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare, Siemens Healthineers, Medanta Hospitals, St John’s Research Institute, Health Care Global Enterprises and TATA AIG have joined hands with this innovation challenge to provide their support and mentorship to the participating startups till the end of the pilot phase. More industry and state partners are expected to join this initiative.