Express Pharma

Seven organisations come together to launch INDovation programme to incubate and commercialise Indian healthcare startups

The programme is supported by Pfizer, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, Social Alpha, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT-Delhi and AGNIi; with UN Health Innovation Exchange (UNHIEX) as knowledge partner

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Ahead of the World Health Day, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, AGNIi, Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT-Delhi, Pfizer and Social Alpha have come together to launch the Pfizer INDovation programme to support breakthrough healthcare innovations by startups in India. Social Alpha is the core implementation partner responsible for executing the programme, a statement notified.

It also said that this is Version 2.0 of the Pfizer IIT-Delhi Innovation and IP Program. In Version 1, Pfizer successfully incubated nine healthcare innovators and supported 19 IP filings. Now, in the first year of Version 2.0, three winning startups each in the areas of oncology and digital health, will receive a grant of up to Rs 65 lakh each for product trials, pilot studies and product market launches to accelerate the lab-to-market journey of their innovation. This is one of the largest such programmes, both by grant value and partnerships, to focus on incubating and commercialising healthcare startups in the country.

AIM and NITI Aayog will provide the startups with access to their entire network of incubators and facilities via co-incubation and will also provide technical and strategic advisery to support both the programme and the startups. The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi), will be the principal incubation partner while customised incubation support will be provided across technology incubation centres such as the IITs, other major technology institutes and incubation network of AIM across India. Social Alpha, as the implementation partner, will support start-ups to accelerate their lab-to-market journey, said the statement.

The programme is also being supported by AGNIi, PATH, AHPI, St Johns Research Institute, HCG Hospitals, Cytecare Hospitals, FICCI, UNHIEX, Google for Startups, Design Alpha, HIMSS, Marico Innovation Foundation and TenX2, noted the statement.

The statement also said that a nationwide call for applications in a grand challenge format will be announced to invite digital health and oncology startups working on the identified priority problem statements. Eligible participants include:
• Medical devices and diagnostics startups and companies with product stage of Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 4 or above
• Startups or companies in Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data analysis, IoTs, software development and bioinformatics at TRL level 5 or above.

Commenting on the programme, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, said, “India has proven itself to be a healthcare innovation powerhouse in the world. We expect this programme to help startups and young innovators to bring healthcare solutions that will address unmet needs in the priority areas of oncology and digital health for not just India, but the world.”

Dr Chintan Vaishanv, Managing Director, AIM, NITI Aayog, said, “The need of the hour is to focus on the high burden of diseases the country is experiencing. It is through innovations in screening, pathology and disease management, mortality rates and costs of terminal care, can be effectively targetted. I appeal to all the startups focussing on digital health and oncology to contribute towards the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) and to help India come out of the cancer epidemic.”

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Deputy Director, Centre for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Centre, and member, National Cancer Grid, stressed on the fact that technology-enabled, prevention, early detection and standardised cancer care delivery will reduce the significant cancer burden in India, and more programmes like INDovation that focus on accelerating adoption of disruptive technologies are needed to change the cancer care landscape.

Speaking further about the programme, S Sridhar, Managing Director, Pfizer, said, “Worldwide and in India, Pfizer stands for innovations and breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. With the success of our earlier collaboration with IIT-Delhi, we are confident that we can scale up our industry-academia-government partnership to support India’s brilliant young healthcare startups to become solution providers to the world and commercial success stories in the process. With this programme, we are looking to address the challenges startups face after crossing the early-stage product development so that many of these unique ideas and solutions can become commercially successful products.”

“Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) at IIT Delhi and Pfizer created India’s Pioneering healthcare-focussed industry-academia collaborative programme in 2015. This programme has already incubated nine startups and supported IP filing by 19 innovators. The INDovation initiative takes this programme to a next level. As one of the country’s foremost healthcare incubators, FITT IIT-Delhi will provide access to resources and the knowledge to help start-ups create sustainable healthcare solutions,” said Dr Anil Wali, Managing Director, FITT, in the statement.

Social Alpha and IIT Delhi together will provide support and guidance for 24 months to facilitate the journey of the startups to market launch; help refine the business model; navigate the regulatory landscape; and provide an understanding of national and global market dynamics.

Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha, said, “Quality universal health coverage needs to be affordable to improve access and experience for all. At Social Alpha, we search for breakthrough innovations that have the potential to revolutionise patient care and help promising startups with clinical and regulatory pathways as well as funding and market access. Our association with Pfizer will allow us to sharpen our focus on oncology and digital health innovations, two high-priority areas with large impact potential.”

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