Are startups ready with any Covid-19 solution: DST checking

Govt goes bullish on startups with ESOP holiday, tax relief.

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) As India lurks on the threshold of stage three in the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed over 24,000 lives globally, 165 startups with innovative solutions dealing with preventive, diagnostics, assistive and curative fronts to combat the coronavirus have responded to a national call to combat the public health crisis by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

They are at various stages of startup journey.

Synergizing and consolidating various activities carried out by the Ministry of Science and Technology and its network of autonomous institutions and scientific bodies across the country, the DST has also seed supported a Pune-based Startup under incubation at Scitech Park, University of Pune to augment the deployment of iron Ioniser Machines at various hospitals in Maharashra, for reducing the viral load in quarantine areas significantly.

The call which has been invited by March 30, 2020 has evinced great interest. Nearly 190 companies have already registered with TDB offering solutions, including for diagnostic kits Covid 19, thermal scanners, AI and IOT based decision making support, spares and manufacturing of ventilators, manufacturing of mask and so on.

Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Science and TechnologyA(SCTIMST), Trivandrum, an autonomous institute of DST has already started building 8 different prototypes to address Covid-19 health challenges.

A startup under incubation at SCTIMST-TIMed, a DST-supported incubator in the Institute is developing low cost AI-enabled digital X-ray detector for screening Covid-19 patients.

The DST has set up a “Covid19 Task Force” for mapping of technologies from labs, academic institutions, startups and MSMEs. The aim is to identify the most promising startups that are close to scaleup, who may need financial or other help or connects based on its projected demand to rapidly scaleup.

The solutions and novel applications aimed at addressing the pandemic-related challenges are being taken up by extensive mapping of solutions requiring research and development support, startups with viable products requiring facilitation and manufacturing support.

Market deployable products requiring seed support are also being identified. Support is being given for solutions already in the market but which require substantial scale up to augment their manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities.

The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has already sent out a call to invite proposals as part of special call under Intensification of Research in High Priority Area (IRHPA) scheme specifically designed for Covid-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national R&D efforts for new anti-virals, vaccines, and affordable diagnostic.

The call which invites submissions by March 31, 2020 has garnered encouraging response from scientists across India.

The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of government of India functioning under DST has issued a call for proposal to address protection and home-based respiratory interventions for Covid-19 patients.

The National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board, DST has reached out to its strong network of over 150+ incubation centres across the country for mapping the novel innovations already under incubation to combat diseases like Covid-19.

DST through the synergistic approach involving scientific and research institutions, researchers, scientists, incubators, startups and tech companies is geared to address the challenges arising out of Covid19 pandemic.

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