Healthtech startups seems to be thriving in the State in the wake of the pandemic with the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) registering a growth of 15% to 20% in their numbers in the last six months.

A total of 126 healthtech startups are now operational across the State collectively attracting government grants to the tune of ₹5 crore for their innovations to fight the challenge posed by the pandemic.

Among the products and solutions thrown up by these startups include a dedicated app for the State government for real-time dissemination of information and alerts regarding Covid-19, comprehensive telemedicine solutions, access control solutions, robot for serving food, and other consumables in isolation wards, N95 masks, automatic mask disposal machine and even portable ventilator, social distancing turnstiles etc.

Hand-holding

KSUM authorities said that it has evolved a protocol for the proper hand-holding of these startups by serving as a facilitator bringing together multiple stakeholders for testing and validation of products.

The Kalamasserry-based hardware technology incubator, Maker Village, has added around six new healthtech startups since the pandemic in addition to the eight to 10 existing ones.

“While the sector offers tremendous growth potential, the challenge is in facilitating clinical tests and validation. This calls for strengthening tie-ups with health care industry players and sensitising them to the fact that the association offered a win-win situation,” said Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO, Maker Village.

Support system

While Maker Village facilitated such a support system on a case-to-case basis, efforts are on to set up a structured institutional mechanism in association with the reputed health care industry players from within the State and outside.

Technology and design experts insisted that offering a low-cost version of existing medical equipment is not always the right way to look at innovations in the field.

“Proof of Concept, prototype, and pilot stages in product development, especially in medtech area needs to be well understood. Proof of concept can use the standard equipment in the lab and need not be in the final form or fit of the product. Though in the conventional product development cycle, the next phase is proto design, in Medtech, we always recommend a few more stages for Proof of Concept. Design for manufacturability, regulatory compliance, reliability requirements cannot be an afterthought,” said K.R. Suresh Nair, founder CEO of Design Alpha, an initiative of Tata Trust, operating out of Infopark and that offers complete hand-holding from the concept to the product stage.

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