As Covid-19 pandemic and economic shutdowns are dealing a severe blow on the world economy, NITI Aayog’s flagship Atal Innovation Mission, (AIM) is on full swing to keep the entrepreneurial spirit high across the country by teaming up with other Ministeries and partners to support Startups with COVID-19 innovative Solutions and to further fight COVID- 19 pandemics.
In this regard, AIM today coordinated and concluded a series of virtual COVID-19 Demo-Days- an initiative to identify promising start-ups with potential Covid-19 innovations to further help them deploy and scale-up their solutions nationwide. The initiative was launched in partnership with other government bodies including Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology (DBT); Department of Science and Technology (DST), Startup India, AGNIi, and other Ministries under the direction of Principal Scientific Adviser to GoI Dr. Vijay Raghavan, and Member Health, NITI Aayog Dr. Vinod Paul.
Over 1,000 COVID-19 related start-ups from a diverse set of categories including curative, preventive and assistive solutions were put through two rounds of evaluation, from which more than 70 start-ups were shortlisted for the Virtual COVID-19 Demo Days. These start-ups will receive support in the form of funding, access to manufacturing abilities, supply chain and logistics and finding the right vendors and mentors.
A total of nine DemoDays for Medical Devices, PPE, Sanitization, Technology solutions, etc were held and led by Mission Director AIM, NITI Aayog R. Ramanan. While sharing his views, he said that the joint initiative is expected to provide a much-needed fillip to India’s mobilization efforts relating to all COVID-19 related products/services/solutions and give the start-up ecosystem an effective platform to contribute during the current scenario.
“The superior quality of these solutions and their applicability in these challenging times are a testament to the innovativeness of the Indian entrepreneurial landscape,” Ramanan asserted.DBT Secretary Dr. Renu Swarup during concluding Demo Day said “It is certain that the collective effort of the cutting-edge innovations and technologies showcased in the COVID-19 Demo Days will contribute towards the fight against COVID.”
Similarly, DST Secretary Prof Ashutosh Sharma stressed on efforts of all government departments over the past six years that created and empowered an innovation and incubation ecosystem which worked with innovators to rapidly develop and deploy effective solutions during the critical time of need. “The success of this ecosystem is already demonstrated by over 60 startups that are now gearing for a rapid launch of COVID-19 related products with AIM and DST support,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, as a result of these virtual Demo Days, more than 340 connections involving more than 50 startups have been made between the startups and various investor groups / other organizations. Besides, the organizers assisted the startups by suggesting crucial additions to their pitch, advising them on various approvals, testing requirements, etc, providing access to market, buyers and facilitating registration on portals such as GeM.
Appreciating the efforts of government, Regional Head - West India, Indian Angel Network Kanchi Daiya said: "It is a great initiative by the Government of India to empower startups, drive innovation and bring various departments of the Government and private organizations together to combat COVID-19.”
McGee's Mechatronics Pvt Ltd, one of the participating startups also expressed their views and said "Demo Days was helpful in many ways including clearing the roadblocks about commercialization and receiving interesting suggestions for further deployment. We have found some potential collaborators during the session which might be helpful in the near future.”All the virtual Demo Days were attended by other dignitaries including Program Director, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog Ishita Agrawal, Head, Inclusive Growth UNDP Amit Kumar, Head of Solutions Mapping, Accelerator Lab, UNDP Rozita Singh, Director, NASSCOM 10,000 Startups Kritika Murugesan, AVP and Head Startup India, Invest India Aastha Grover, VP, AGNIi, Invest India Rahul Nayyar.