Marico Innovation Foundation responded to the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic with ‘Innovate2Beat COVID’ a nationwide grand challenge to unearth innovations that can combat the short-supply of Personal Protective Gear (PPE) and Ventilators. The pragmatic call to help the frontline workers of this nation spurred action among innovators and the chalenge jury received over 1500 interests from across the country during the 20 days period from 29th March to 18th April 2020. Detailed evaluation and due diligence of entries by Advisors Praxis Global Alliance, technical scrutiny by a Technical Panel, followed by intense deliberations by a Jury Panel led to 3 innovations that emerged as frontrunners with their ingenious PPE solutions. The Foundation along with A.T.E. Chandra Foundation and Mr. Harsh Mariwala in his personal capacity have come together to offer total grants of INR 2.5 crores of which INR 1.57 crores has been offered to selected PPE solutions.
The winning organisations created sustainable, cost-effective and ‘built-for-India’ innovations. They began working on their solutions to support the COVID-19 crisis using quick thinking and agility to deliver solutions for emerging problems. By innovating within their business areas and modifying their existing devices to deliver PPE equipment at a fraction of the cost, they show potential to create large scale positive impact.
Additionally, Marico Innovation Foundation will now take on the next turn in this challenging journey by enabling the selected innovations by a deeper engagement model. Through this, they offer support and hand-on guidance to ascertain the innovation’s success as they march ahead to solve challenges thrown by the global pandemic.
The Foundation has always played a catalytic role for innovations in order to help them achieve scale. They are geared to help the winners in the PPE category ensuring they build on manufacturing, distribution and sales capabilities to disburse upwards of 3.5L masks, 50K complete PPE kits and 4.5K sterilization units within the next 2-3 months.
In the post-COVID world, innovations such as these will be the biggest driving factor for building the new-world ‘normal’, helping India survive and thrive. Marico Innovation Foundation aims to lay the foundation of a strong support system that will continue to mitigate the challenges we stand to face as a nation now and in the future.
The selected innovations are unique, affordable and can be rapidly manufactured and deployed; thereby easing the already strained medical infrastructure. They are:
- CREA Worldwide | Grant offered INR 41,00,000
One of the few players in the market offering a breathable yet hydrophobic PPE kit, CREA relieves COVID-warriors — medical practitioners and frontline workers – of dehydration from commonly-used laminated PPE kits. CREA is using non-laminated fabrics which makes their coveralls more breathable; can be used up to 12 hours even in summer heat. As the country prepares to come out of lockdown, CREA also offers a suite to protect our second line of defence (dentists, general practitioners, policemen, healthcare workers, etc.) comprising face shield, parka and coverall. CREA’s DRDO-approved coveralls bring relief to COVID-doctors and frontline workers, and increase longevity, thereby reducing the massive waste generated in fighting the pandemic. Priced similar to non-breathable kits and with twice the life, CREA’s breathable PPE kits hold the potential to halve the PPE-kit expenditure incurred by hospitals per doctor per day. With the high temperatures of summer approaching, dehydration is a key concern and CREA’s kits are poised to solve this problem for a large population of our frontline COVID-warriors.
- Log 9 Materials Scientific Pvt. Ltd.| Grant offered INR 76,00,000
A unique multi-focal UV disinfection chamber (called CoronaOven) that can sanitize any surface of all pathogens in only 10 minutes; thus permitting hospitals to re-use masks, gloves and other PPE. Each microwave-sized compact chamber (33-litre) can disinfect 40 masks per hour, thus holding the potential to not only largely reduce the current high pressure on PPE supply, but also massively cut down on PPE waste. In just a month since CoronaOven’s launch, Log 9 has already sold 300+ ovens, which can help users disinfect and re-use up to 30 lakh gloves every month. Apart from hospitals disinfecting PPE, general shops, households and users across the value chain of most small-sized products such as milk packets, food packets, watches, spectacles, bags, etc. can disinfect a plethora of items. The chamber is also finding innovative, customised use cases in airports to disinfect high-contact surfaces such as trolleys, escalator handles, baggage belts, etc.
- Saral Design Solutions| Grant offered INR 40,00,000
Saral has promptly innovated to adapt, cost-effectively, its patented sanitary pads producing machine to manufacture higher quality 3-ply surgical masks (as opposed to commonly available 2-ply masks which do not protect against the COVID virus). Saral can manufacture at a rapid rate of 80 masks every minute, and is making these masks available to consumers at a frugal cost, such that the masses of India can afford to adequately purchase protective masks. Saral’s machine has already produced 10 lakh masks since the pandemic began. They are now looking to ramp up production through their decentralized manufacturing capabilities in 20 locations across Tier II & III cities in India. This will enable meeting local demand at a decentralised scale. With the nation about to come out of lockdown, such masks are expected to be in need en masse and Saral is poised to step up to the occasion.
Padma Vibhushan Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar, Hon’ Chairperson of Governing Council of Marico Innovation Foundation and Jury chair said, “Marico Innovation Foundation has been fuelling innovation for close to two decades by celebrating, showcasing and scaling the very best. Amit Chandra prompted us to use this wealth of experience to bring the best & most innovative minds together as this pandemic challenge rose before us.” He adds, “I was privileged to chair a truly outstanding jury comprising great eminent experts who had the opportunity of unearthing truly ingenious innovators. These innovators proved their mettle by pivoting their existing businesses and reapplying its tenets to arrive at breakthrough, India specific, affordable yet high quality solutions. To ensure that these solutions finally help our society in these trying times, we will work closely with the winners now to help them convert their great ideas into lasting impact”
Speaking on the initiative, Mr. Harsh Mariwala, Founder of Marico Innovation Foundation & Chairman of Marico Ltd said, “These 3 organisations have created products that are innovative, are of superior quality, can be procured at very affordable price and have the potential to achieve significant impact – and this is exactly the need of the hour. Speed to scale is even more crucial and therefore our role in MIF is not just limited to identifying these innovations but to also help deploy at a large scale to ultimately impact the end-consumers. This initiative was launched with this very aim.”
Mr. Amit Chandra, Vice-Chairperson, Marico Innovation Foundation, and Chairman Bain Capital India said, “I want to congratulate Marico Innovation Foundation’s jury for selecting an amazing set of innovations that have the potential of solving a huge issue facing our society. MIF will work hard towards empowering this wonderful set of early-stage entrepreneurs to rapidly take their innovations to the next stage.”
About Innovate2Beat COVID initiative:
Marico Innovation Foundation, A.T.E. Chandra Foundation and Mr. Harsh Mariwala in his personal capacity have come together to offer a total grant value of Rs. 2.5 crores to existing cost-effective and innovative solutions to combat short supply of ventilators and personal protective equipment. The challenge launched on 29th March, 2020 and received an overwhelming response from MedTech innovators from across the nation. The program followed a 3-step robust process for selecting the winners.
Drawing from their deep experience across sectors, Praxis Global Alliance (a next-gen management consulting and business research services firm) was able conduct a thorough non-technical evaluation and an exhaustive due diligence of the applications which was followed by a technical scrutiny by a Technical Experts Panel.
The focused shortlist thus produced, was presented to an esteemed Jury Panel chaired by Dr. R.A. Mashelkar (Hon’ Chair of Governing Council, Marico Innovation Foundation). Other members of the jury include Dr. N. K. Ganguly (recipient of Padma Bhushan, Microbiology expert), Dr. Indira Chakravarty (recipient of Padma Shri, Public Health expert), Dr. Arjun Alva (Interventionist), Dr. Dilip Karnad (Interventionist), Dr. Ashok Mahashur (Pulmonologist), Dr. Anant Bhan (Bioethicist) and Mr. Milind Shah (Former CEO of Medtronics India).
Grants worth INR 1.57 crores are being disbursed to innovations under the PPE Category. The team is currently conducting thorough evaluation of applications under Ventilator category. More details will be available shortly.
About Marico Innovation Foundation:
Marico Innovation Foundation was founded in 2003 by Harsh Mariwala at a time when innovation was not a focus of the government or corporates. Through its sector agnostic programs, the Foundation works closely with innovative and impactful ventures across the business and social sectors. Their aim is to make innovation mainstream thereby adding value to India’s growth story. The Foundation is guided by a Governing Council comprising the likes of Amit Chandra, Rajeev Bakshi, Ramji Raghavan, Sam Balsara, Anu Aga to name a few. The two core programs are Scale-Up Program – a deep-rooted mentoring program that tangibly impacts the scale of start-ups and Innovation for India Awards- a most prestigious platform for recognizing undiscovered innovations.