Manual ventilation is a basic skill that involves airway assessment, maneuvers to open the airway, and application of simple and complex airway support devices and effective positive pressure ventilation using a bag and mask.
Gautham Pasupuleti, CEO and Managing Director, Biodesign Innovation labs, has 28 honors and awards attached to your list, along with 6 publications and 5 patents. He also founded CornealX, which is an AI-based eye care startup and he is one of Forbes India’s Ultimate 120 Pioneers of Change.
Biodesign Innovation Labs is a healthcare solution company and has developed a medical device for manual ventilation called RespirAID which helps to reduce morbidity caused by a shortage of ventilators in low-resource settings. It is supported by the Department of Biotechnology BIRAC- Government of India, Government of Karnataka, Qualcomm, CAMTech Global Health - Mass General Hospital, CCAMP, IKP, IIT Bombay, and Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India.
Biodesign Innovation labs focused on saving lives and improves the quality
Gautham sheds light on the subject, “So to give a brief context of how we started, I come from a background of engineering and design with a lot of emphasis on innovation, design and development, and more emphasis on social impact. My brother and I started this company in 2017. We found there was an unmet clinical need, which was a shortage of manual ventilation in the rural hospitals, tertiary health care hospitals, which have a very limited number of ventilators and leading to mortality with the existing standard of treatment and, the low resource health care conditions which primarily lead to mortality when we visited more than 100 hospitals across India. And the existing treatment is using backbone mass to keep the patient stable when the patient is usually having an emergency, for example, cardiac arrest, leading to respiratory arrest, or vice versa. So you need immediate ventilation at that point in time until the patient is moved to a higher treatment. So we found this transition to be a very critical and very bottom pack for the whole healthcare system across India, and we kept hearing the same thing from the doctors that the patients usually don't get enough ventilators when there is an emergency or patient with some causality or trauma. Clearly, we found no one was solving this particular problem in the emergency care and transport or prolonged manual ventilation, that is when we started this company Biodesign Innovation labs with our main product RespirAID, which is a portable mechanical ventilation device, which is a safe, reliable, affordable alternative for prolonged manual ventilation, such that it can save the lives of patients who need immediate ventilation, are intubated, are sedated, who have to be transported and need ventilation in ambulances during emergency till the ICU’s. The primary objective is to save lives and to make healthcare more affordable and accessible. So right now, we have launched the product across hospitals in India. And from the government policy, we want to make sure that Indian companies are much more reliable, affordable, and replace the imported products with Indian products at the same time, without compromising on the quality,” he says.
Wants to add value to the healthcare system
Gautham presents his thoughts, “For me personally, the objective is to make some valuable product which creates value to the healthcare system. What we're looking at is patients who need affordable ventilators and accessible products which are in the rural areas, tertiary care hospitals, rural primary health centers, secondary health centers, where there is usually no or shortage of ventilators. So when you go to these hospitals, you get firsthand experience by talking to these doctors. And that actually motivates the primary resource that you have and expertise and skills that you have got from your academics and working with the doctors and other clinicians and you use all knowledge to endure experience and resources to contribute for the society and country,” he says.
RespirAID - Low-cost ventilators
Gautham explains, “We received an award from the government of Karnataka, which was a grant essentially funding our low-cost ventilator RespirAID in 2017, which solves the problem of prolonged manual ventilation. And we also received an award in the year 2017 from CAMtech National hospitals, which helped us really do the R&D. And we have received several other grants and awards from the BIRAC department of biotechnology and Department of science and technology and in the press prototyping grant, which really accelerated our R&D as we were developing a ventilator from scratch, which nobody has ever tried before making sure that all the technologies actually being developed from scratch without having much to do with the replication of existing products. So we have developed an indie genius, innovative, totally new product, which actually solves a problem and saves the lives of patients. And right now it is being deployed across hospitals in India. And we're working with multiple partners, manufacturing and licensing partners. And we have also applied for FDA and other patents across countries like the US, Canada, Australia, India. So we also plan to expand to other countries, parallelly, looking at different partners and local regions so as to make sure that we can take the product and make it accessible across India and globally,” he says.
On being a startup Mentor with Atal incubation Centre
Gautham puts forth his opinion on being a mentor to the young minds of our country and whether he feels India has the potential to be put on the world map in terms of innovation, “If you look at the innovation index, India is growing in terms of the most innovative countries in the world. So the more the ecosystem really plays a key role in nurturing the young minds to come up with solutions, it is actually solving a problem for the global issues.
So preparing the youth of the country is very important to make sure that they actually are self-sufficient and independent and can make their own decisions to really build organizations or contribute to existing organizations, innovations for our country. So in order to do that, not just colleges, but the whole startup ecosystem, right from the government, there has to be a lot of funding for these ideas to take these research projects forward. If you look at Stanford, the USA, there is support from academia and from the industry. Because when you have that as an ecosystem, and people who are actually brilliant, know about technology and come forward to take an initiative, the whole system has to support such that they can really take their visions forward into reality. What I have learned has really helped us. So we can really ask the people, who have succeeded before to guide people on how to take their startup or entrepreneurial journey. So if you have knowledge, transfer, as it is the best practice to succeed,” he says.
Featured in Forbes India’s Ultimate 120 Pioneers of Change
Gautham talks about his experience, “It's a great honor. And we feel humbled to have that. The COVID pandemic started and the doctors, who are mentors in our company, really encouraged us to pursue this goal of manufacturing ventilators in the time of COVID and there was a shortage of ventilators. We worked 20 hours continuously which went on for months. Then we had a lot of challenges like supply chain, working during lockdowns. It was about someone creating the spark. And then you really take that inspiration to get going and you want it to see the products come out and really go to the patients and have an impact. Then we started mass manufacturing ventilators in collaboration with Remedio for the manufacturing RespirAID, portable ventilators, which essentially saves lives. And that's when the media started recognizing our work, your story, and Forbes, and it's really great honor to get recognized,” he says.
(Edited by Rabia Mistry Mulla)