Medical devices get start-up boost

Medical devices get start-up boost

Medical devices get start-up boost, India, a signatory of UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), has huge commitment towards accomplishment of health care related issues.

India, a signatory of UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), has huge commitment towards accomplishment of health care related issues. Under the MDG, three out of eight goals, six out of 21 targets, 18 out of 60 indicators pertain to medical care. Medical technology is the way forward for effective delivery of health services. The burgeoning need for innovation in particular in medical technology has become indispensible for emerging economies like India.

Innovative solutions in medical technology can improve access to health care, reduce medical errors, provide effective therapies with shorter duration of hospitalisation, monitor therapies to ensure compliance and perform diagnosis early thus effectively bringing down expenses in health care sector. The Indian medical technology industry is set to grow from $2.75 billion in 2008 to $14 billion by 2015. To meet the growing demand for affordable medical services emerging countries must make greater investments in R&D for building the necessary infrastructure for future. They need more support from the investment community to build a formidable research ecosystem that can spur innovations.

Unfortunately, seeds of self-reliance in the field of medical technology weren’t sown in India after Independence. With the result, innovation in medical technology has taken a back seat. In spite of high excise duties, India continues to import nearly 80 per cent of its medical equipment. Presently a silent medical technology revolution aimed at transforming the quality of medical services and its reach is underway. Indian companies are developing state-of-the-art medical devices that require substantial innovation. Several mobile apps that can quickly reference the dosages, brand names, and availability in India are the results of the avant-garde work carried out in medical device innovation. Portable, scalable, authentic medical devices are making inroads in India thanks to new initiatives in biomedical research and startups.

Indio Labs, an Indian startup, has come up with low-cost, portable liver biopsy device. It is an affordable alternative for the expensive liver biopsies, a gold standard for diagnosing liver diseases. SKL Medtech, earlier into textiles, ventured into medical technology to develop new devices. It developed an advanced antibiotic wound dressing that can kill microbes and provide good healing environment as well. Several others are also in the fray now.

It is estimated that healthcare sector is projected to grow to $158.2 billion by 2017 from $79 billion now. To meet the growing needs, Government is promoting investments in medical innovation through Technopreneur Promotion Programme of Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Besides, two research centres were set up in Chennai and Delhi. IIT Madras and Department of Biotechnology jointly set up Health Care Technology Innovation Centre at Chennai. It developed a cardiac imaging system which measures arterial stiffness non-invasively. Other contributions include a mobile eye surgical unit and a software platform Eye-Pac. In New Delhi, AIIMS and IIT Delhi work in collaboration with Stanford University initiated Stanford-India BioDesign Programme (SIB). SIB scientists have so far developed 22 devices. Realising the growth potential in India, global giants such as GE, Stryker Coorporation, Philips and Johnson & Johnson set up their own centres for medical devices.

Success in medical innovation is dependent on five pillars - financial incentives, infrastructure for quality research, supportive regulatory system, demand and supply of health services, supportive investment community. It is reassuring that Indian startups backed by multi-disciplinary scientific think-tanks are building up a sturdy research ecosystem. They are eventually delivering sterling innovations in the form of devices which are ideal for the rural areas.

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