TECH PILL
Forbes India|December 18,2020
Health care startups and other companies are making the most of the pandemic-induced opportunities in the sector by developing innovative products and technologies
NAINI THAKER & MANSVINI KAUSHIK

The coronavirus outbreak exposed the vast gaps, severe inadequacies and existing vulnerabilities in the Indian health care system. As of August, there was only one government bed and one doctor for every 1,844 and 11,082 patients, respectively. The country is ranked 145 among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of health care, according to a Lancet study.

The challenges, however, also proved to be a great opportunity for health care startups and others who pivoted into the sector. From launching a range of sanitisers and masks, and health care assistive applications to manufacturing ventilators, personal protective equipment kits and experimenting with various Covid-19 tests, the sector saw hectic activity since March. Issues such as labour scarcity and supply chains breaking down persisted, but did not prove to be a deterrence for companies willing to establish themselves. According to DataLabs by Inc42+’s ₹India’s Healthtech Landscape In A PostCovid-19 World Report 2020’, the size of the health tech market in India is likely to touch $21 billion by 2025 from $5.2 billion in 2019.

Forbes India takes a look at a few such startups that are taking the fight against Covid-19 head-on.

PERSAPIEN: WATER WAY TO KILL THE VIRUS

Two years after Shashi Rajan and Debayan Saha met at Stanford University as Global Biodesign fellows in 2015, they launched PerSapien in India to develop technologies to tackle air pollution. Since 2017, the company has launched three products, with a couple of patents to its name and a few others in the pipeline. However, just when things appeared to fall in place, demand for PerSapien’s products took a hit because of the pandemic. “We realised it was time to go back to the brainstorming board and understand the entire pandemic landscape,” says Rajan.

The duo realised that an effective vaccine and medicines would take time to hit the market. So, they decided to focus on the existing gap: Effective sanitisation technologies to control the spread of the virus. Though there are enough technologies available—like UV-C, Sodium Hypochlorite and Ozone—each one is hazardous to human health. “Hence, based on the research we have done in the past several years in ₹particulate physics’ while working on PM2.5, other pollutants and contaminants, we came across a way to destroy the coronavirus by scientifically exploiting the unique properties of water, namely ₹polar covalent bonds’,” says Saha.

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