June 27, 2019

BIRAC, Social Alpha and Mphasis announced Quest for Assistive Technologies to support start-ups working on solutions for persons-with-disabilities

  • Unique Public-Private partnership to foster an ecosystem to develop Assistive Technologies solutions
  • ‘Quest for Assistive Technologies’ program curated and conceptualized in partnership with BIRAC and Mphasis
  • Quest to select up to 10 start-ups that create inclusive solutions. Winners to get access to implementation support of up to INR 20 lakh; Additional opportunity for growth capital worth INR 50 Lakhs
  • BIRAC, Mphasis and Tata Trusts’ funded Social Alpha Quest for AT to provide ‘Lab to Market’ support including optimal product design, market access and customized assistance to each start-up
  • Admission into 3-month accelerator program focussed on market access and investment readiness

New Delhi, June 27, 2019: BIRAC, Social Alpha and Mphasis announced the launch of the ‘BIRAC-Social Alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies – supported by Mphasis’ today, a search for start-ups in the Assistive Technology sector to support innovations focussed on enabling and empowering solutions for persons-with-disabilities.

The Quest will identify and select up to 10 innovations that enhance the learning, working and independent living for persons-with-disabilities. These winning innovations will also be provided up to INR 20 lakhs each to facilitate their market access journey, for implementation of work orders.

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary DBT & Chairperson, BIRAC said, “BIRAC is promoting development of innovative biotech solutions to address unmet needs. A number of initiatives rolled out in last few years have positively impacted the Biotech Startup ecosystem which has now grown to 2500+ across the country. This includes products and technologies focused for persons-with-disabilities. BIRAC - Social alpha launch of “Quest for Assistive Technologies” intends to identify, handhold and deploy Assistive Technology solutions for the deserving ones. This partnership could prove instrumental in building a pipeline of innovative and affordable solutions. I hope that this initiative will encourage national & international stakeholders to join hands in delivering assistive technologies at scale.

Addressing the audience at the launch event, Dr. Mohd. Aslam, MD, BIRAC said, “BIRAC promotes entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs to undertake strategic translational research to develop innovative products and technologies. Technology driven solutions can steer the change for societal well-being and impact billions of lives. I hope that BIRAC-Social alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies would provide a platform for start-ups to leverage this engagement for creating and deploying innovative assistive technologies across the country.

Speaking at the launch event, Manoj Kumar, CEO and Co-founder, Social Alpha, and Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Tata Trusts said, “There is a huge shortage of quality solutions that cater to and empower persons-with-disabilities at a price point they can afford. Sometimes we come across innovators who have built the right prototypes, but find them struggling with the end user acceptance, design for manufacturing and market access. Affordability and user experience are the key to large scale adoption of such solutions and our program is designed to validate the product-market fit, help with clinical trials where required and bridge the gaps that exist in the distribution and service channels. We have already incubated four innovative companies in this sector—Bionic Yantra, Blee Technologies, Innaumation, and Tactopus, and through this Quest we are deepening our commitment the sector.”

Meenu Bhambhani, Vice President & Head- Corporate Social Responsibility, Mphasis, addressed the event, and said, “At Mphasis we have a strong focus on improving the lives of persons-with-disability. We have partnered with Social Alpha to support the curation, design and implementation of the Quest. This initiative is aimed at introducing game changing innovations to the market; building this cohesive ecosystem with critical organizations will significantly fast-track the lab-to-market journey for innovators. We believe this can really move the needle for disability inclusion in India and through this partnership we are committed to further the cause” Mphasis, through its CSR initiatives, has been doing pioneering and cutting edge work to promote disability inclusion in the mainstream. This partnership with Social Alpha resonates with our focus on providing solutions that enhance equal participation and dignity for people with disabilities in all spheres of life especially through inclusive solutions.

Upon selection, the winners of the Quest will be enrolled into the Accelerator for Inclusive Solutions — a game-changing 3-month accelerator program where they will be given the chance to work with selected implementation agencies within the Social Alpha, BIRAC and Tata Trusts network, interact directly with potential users of their product, and gain exposure to other funders, buyers and CSR initiatives. As a unique feature, these winning start-ups will also be provided up to 20 lakhs each to kick-start their market access journey, for implementation of work orders, and further support for clinical validation and product engineering. In addition, the start-ups will also have the opportunity to work closely with experts on price discovery, cost optimization, market validation, and marketing and sales.

Multiple estimates suggest that there are anywhere between 4 to 8 crore disabled people in India—i.e. one in twelve households has a family member with a disability. Moreover, due to low literacy levels, social stigma and lack of opportunities, people with disabilities remain the most excluded and unidentified members of Indian society. Large number of children with disabilities stay out of school, disabled adults are likely to be unemployed, and families with a disabled member tend to be economically weaker. While there are several players working to improve the situation, currently, there is no concerted industry effort. To address this gap, Social Alpha also announced that it would be launching a unique Open Innovation Platform which will serve three key purposes: first, identification of key problems and the critical areas where technological interventions are necessary, second, collaboration of innovators and entrepreneurs to develop the technology to serve identified problem, and third, facilitation of market access for these innovations by aggregating end users and inviting funders, eventually reducing the cost to the end consumer.

“We envisage this platform to include organisations working with persons-with-disabilities, experts and thought leaders, start-ups, channel partners, CSRs arms of companies, family offices and foundations that focus on disabilities, as well as Central and State governments. This platform will bring together the innovation and investment ecosystems; map problems with potential solutions and help capital allocation decision of both philanthropic and commercial capital providers” said Manoj Kumar.

Presently, Social Alpha has partnered with several leading organizations working for inclusivity including Enable India, Artilab, Jaipur Foot, Saksham Trust, Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged, National Institute of Speech and Hearing, and AssisTech at IIT-Delhi.

The Quest for Assistive Technologies is open for applicants starting today, June 27, 2019 and will be accepting applications till August 15, 2019. For further information, please log on to: www.socialalpha.org/assisistivetech

About Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC):
BIRAC is a not-for-profit Section 8, Government of India enterprise mandated to catalyse biotech innovation ecosystem growth in the country. It supports Biotech Startups, Entrepreneurs and SMEs across Biotechnology sector. BIRAC has a strong network of national & international strategic partners that includes Academia, Industry, Corporate, Philanthropic organization, Central and State Government bodies.

There are 2500+ Biotech start-ups, SMEs in the country along with a large pipeline of budding entrepreneurs in the ecosystem who get facilitated through BIRAC’s capital infusement of INR 2000+ Cr, Incubation Centre network and access to technical, IP, Legal and Business mentorship access. Angel and VC funding together with strategic partners and global ecosystem connect, all add value to country’s innovation ecosystem. These efforts have yielded innovators to create a pool of intellectual wealth (175+ IP) and launch of 125+ product and technologies. BIRAC also contributes to “Make in India”, “Startup India” and “Swachh Bharat” programs, leads national missions including National Biopharma Mission, and partners for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and USAID programmes. For more information, please log on to: www.birac.nic.in

Twitter: @BIRAC_2012 Email: birac.dbt@gov.in

About Social Alpha
Social Alpha promotes innovation and entrepreneurship with a mission to create large-scale and sustainable social, economic and environmental impact through a nationwide network of technology and business incubation infrastructure. Social Alpha nurtures mission driven start-ups through their lab to market journey, helping them create high quality, commercially viable, accessible and affordable solutions. Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) forms the core of the Social Alpha architecture, sponsored and enabled by Tata Trusts, Government of India and several academic, philanthropic and corporate partnerships. For more information, please log on to: www.socialalpha.org

LinkedIn: SocialAlpha
Twitter: @SocialAlphaIN
Facebook: SocialAlpha
Instagram: social_alpha_in

About Mphasis
Mphasis (BSE: 526299; NSE: MPHASIS) applies next-generation technology to help enterprises transform businesses globally. Customer centricity is foundational to Mphasis and is reflected in the Mphasis’ Front2Back™ Transformation approach. Front2Back™ uses the exponential power of cloud and cognitive to provide hyper-personalized (C=X2C2TM = 1) digital experience to clients and their end customers. Mphasis’ Service Transformation approach helps ‘shrink the core’ through the application of digital technologies across legacy environments within an enterprise, enabling businesses to stay ahead in a changing world. Mphasis’ core reference architectures and tools, speed and innovation with domain expertise and specialization are key to building strong relationships with marquee clients. Click here to know more.

About Tata Trusts
Since inception in 1892, Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organisation, has played a pioneering role in bringing about an enduring difference in the lives of the communities it serves. Guided by the principles and the vision of proactive philanthropy of the Founder, Jamsetji Tata, the Trusts’ purpose is to catalyse development in the areas of healthcare and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, energy, rural upliftment, urban poverty alleviation, and arts, craft and culture. The Trusts’ programmes, achieved through direct implementation, partnerships and grant making, are marked by innovations, relevant to the country. For more information, please visit http://tatatrusts.org/

Linked In: Tata Trusts
Twitter: @tatatrusts
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Instagram: tata_trusts

For further Information, please contact:
Nayantara Dutta
The Tata Trusts
Email: ndutta@tatatrusts.org
Mobile: 9819052768

Nikita Crasta
Adfactors PR
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