Bangalore, January 23, 2020: All-terrain slip-proof crutches, electric wheelchairs designed for Indian terrain, gaming tools for screening autism and a $1 speaking device are among the 14 winning start-ups announced by BIRAC, Social Alpha and Mphasis, as a part of their programme designed to identify and support technologies that can improve the lives of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). The winners of BIRAC- Social Alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies, supported by Mphasis, were chosen from over 100 applicants based on their business model, technological innovation, product-market fit, focus on affordability and accessibility and socio-economic impact. The start-ups were evaluated through a multi-phase process, including a written application round, a structured interview and a pitch to the expert jury members.
The winning solutions include assistive technologies in speech and hearing impairment, locomotor disability, visual impairment and intellectual disability for children and adults. The winners were awarded grant prizes up to INR 50 lakh each, for completion of the clinical trial, improvements in design-for-manufacturability and fulfilment of work orders. They were also enrolled in the Social Alpha Accelerator for Inclusive Solutions, a comprehensive and rigorous three-month accelerator programme where they will be given the chance to work with selected implementation agencies within the Social Alpha, BIRAC and Tata Trusts network, interact directly with potential users of their product, and gain exposure to other investors, buyers, and CSR initiatives.
In a unique Public-Private Partnership model, BIRAC, Social Alpha and Mphasis came together last year to scale and support Assistive Tech start-ups that are working to enhance learning, working and independent living for PwDs in India. Experts believe there are anywhere between four to eight crore disabled people in India, i.e. one in twelve households has a family member with a disability. Moreover, due to low literacy levels, social stigma and lack of opportunities, people with disabilities remain the most excluded and unidentified members of Indian society.
Speaking at the event, Manoj Kumar, CEO & Co-Founder, Social Alpha said, “We received more applications than we anticipated. We are happy to see many innovators recognising the need to address the challenges faced by PwDs in India. These winning start-ups are pioneers in this space. The potential impact of their solutions is truly momentous and can change the lives of many underserved citizens of our country. At Social Alpha, we are committed to supporting these entrepreneurs by providing strategic inputs to each of the winning teams to accelerate their journey further.”
During his address, Dr. Manish Diwan, Head – Strategic Partnership & Entrepreneurship Development, BIRAC, said, “It is an exemplary case of strategic Public-Private Partnership where different stakeholders BIRAC (government agency), Social Alpha (philanthropic organisation) and Mphasis (industry) have joined hands in support to potentially scaling assistive technologies from start-ups. I wish that all the awardee – 14 start-ups are able to make the best use of this opportunity for successfully deploying their solutions to address the unmet needs of the deserving people.”
“Mphasis is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment not only within Mphasis but across the industries. Through this initiative, we aim to further the cause of disability inclusion in India and make it mainstream. We congratulate the winners of the Quest for Assistive Technologies, who have made commendable efforts to provide solutions that enhance equal participation and dignity for people with disabilities in all spheres of life,” said Srikanth Karra, Chief Human Resource Officer, Mphasis.
For the accelerator programme, Social Alpha has partnered with several leading organisations working for inclusivity including Enable India, Artilab, Jaipur Foot, Saksham Trust, APD, Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged, National Institute of Speech and Hearing, and AssisTech at IIT-Delhi.
Winners of the BIRAC- Social Alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies – Supported by Mphasis:
- Trestle Labs Pvt. Ltd: Their product Kibo empowers the visually-impaired towards inclusive education and employment by enabling real-time access to printed, handwritten and digital content through audio across 11 Indian and multiple overseas languages.
- Kidaura Innovations Pvt. Ltd: A gaming tool that allows for easy and early screening of autism in the golden years (3 to 6 years).
- Thinkerbell Labs Pvt. Ltd: Their product called ‘Annie’ aims at improving braille literacy in India by imparting braille reading, writing and typing skills.
- Demosthenes Technologies Pvt. Ltd: Their flagship product, ‘Stamurai’, provides accelerated therapy for stammering and other speech-related issues, through speech exercises and practice tools.
- Tactopus Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd: Building multi-sensory learning resources to enable children with visual impairment to participate in mainstream education.
- Flexmotiv Technologies Pvt. Ltd: Flexmo Crutches are an all-terrain slip-proof and self-standing crutches for persons with locomotor disability.
- BeAble Health Pvt. Ltd: A game-based solution, called, ‘ArmAble’, that provides engaging and intensive rehabilitation therapy for people suffering from Upper Limb motor deficit.
- Truce Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd: A car swivel seat that goes by the name, ‘Turn Plus’, offers easy entry and exit into the front seat of a passenger car, for people with medical conditions like arthritis, knee and back issues.
- Indent Designs Pvt. Ltd: A product called, ‘Ibex’, an electric wheelchair that is designed for rough Indian terrains and is customisable to each user.
- Brajma Intelligent Systems Pvt. Ltd: XL Cinema Mobile Appenables visually impaired viewers to synchronise audio descriptions of the movies through their smartphone, in a movie hall or at home.
- Innaumation Medical Devices Pvt. Ltd: A novel product called, ‘Aum Voice Prosthesis’ is a $1 speaking device that helps throat cancer patients get their voice back.
- Raised Lines Foundation: Affordable tactile graphics to promote K-12 education for visually-impaired and to provide equal learning opportunities.
- SM Learning Skills Academy for Special Needs Pvt. Ltd: The team, through its AI-driven app called Cogniable, is taking early screening and behavioural therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to the remotest part of the country.
- Inceptor Technologies Pvt Ltd: Providing digital braille access for the visually-impaired through their extremely affordable braille tablet called, ‘BrailleMe’.