Digital Health News

INDovation program to incubate and commercialize Indian healthcare start-ups launched

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

This is Version 2.0 of the Pfizer IIT-Delhi Innovation and IP Program and is one of Pfizer’s CSR initiatives. In Version 1, Pfizer successfully incubated 9 healthcare innovators and supported 19 IP filings. Now, in the first year of Version 2.0, three winning start-ups each in the areas of Oncology and Digital Health, will receive a grant of up to INR 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 programs, both by grant value and partnerships, to focus on incubating and commercialising healthcare start-ups 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 advisory to support to both the program 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 centers such as the IITs, other major technology institutes and incubation network of Atal Innovation Mission across India. Social Alpha, as the implementation partner, will support start-ups to accelerate their lab-to-market journey.

The program 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. 

A nationwide call for applications in a grand challenge format will be announced to invite Digital Health and Oncology start-ups working on the identified priority problem statements. Eligible participants include:

  • Medical devices and diagnostics start-ups and companies with product stage of Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 4 or above
  • Start-ups or companies in artificial intelligence, big data analysis, IoTs, software development and bioinformatics at TRL level 5 or above.

Commenting on the value of such a program, Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, said, “India has proven itself to be a healthcare innovation powerhouse in the world. We expect this program to help start-ups 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, Atal Innovation Mission, 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 targeted. I appeal to all the startups focusing on Digital Health and Oncology to contribute towards the National Digital Health Mission and to help India come out of the cancer epidemic.”

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

Speaking about this program, Mr S. Sridhar, Managing Director, Pfizer Limited, 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 start-ups to become solution providers to the world and commercial success stories in the process. With this program, we are looking to address the challenges start-ups 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-focused industry-academia collaborative program in 2015. This program has already incubated 9 startups and supported IP filing by 19 innovators. The INDovation initiative takes this program 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.

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. Mr. 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 start-ups 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.”

The two focus areas of Oncology and Digital Health in the first year of the program have been chosen due to the increasing burden of cancer in India coupled with late intervention, and the emerging use of digital health as a solution to ensure better outcomes. Innovations in screening, early detection, better cancer management, and palliative care solutions can help reduce the mortality and morbidity of the disease and lower the cost of terminal care. The focus on digital health is closely aligned with the National Digital Health Mission that forms the backbone of the integrated digital health infrastructure of India. Digital healthcare can enable and improve care delivery, making quality healthcare accessible and affordable.


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