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Covid-19: Marico announces Rs 2.5 cr prize for innovative healthcare solution

PTI | Mumbai | Updated: 30-03-2020 18:30 IST | Created: 30-03-2020 18:30 IST
Covid-19: Marico announces Rs 2.5 cr prize for innovative healthcare solution

Industrialist Harsh Mariwala on Monday said he is spearheading a Rs 2.5 crore effort to find solutions to limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  Mariwala, along with two non-profits, has set up the corpus to find solutions for fighting the spread of the virus within the next one month. Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) has invited med-tech entrepreneurs, corporates and innovators to solve the med-tech challenges faced in the wake of on-going COVID-19 crisis with a prize of Rs 2.5 crore, FMCG firm Marico said in a statement earlier in the day.

"We will look for solutions that can be scaled up fast to cover a large section of population, are affordable and can be quickly implemented given that we are already in the middle of things," Mariwala told PTI. The solutions can be in manufacturing ventilators, personal protective equipment, masks etc, he added.

"Marico Innovation Foundation is inviting med-tech entrepreneurs, corporates and innovators - in fact, any person - who can who can provide innovative solutions for two of the direst needs today in the country, namely low-cost ventilators / respiratory solutions and Personal Protective Equipment. "I too, am making a pledge in my personal capacity, making the total grant value to Rs 2.50 crores," Mariwala said.

The window for the challenge is open for 30 days starting March 29, 2020. A team of evaluators has been formed which will be looking at the proposals and choosing the ones to get the grant.

Startups and entities that are "launch-ready" will be shortlisted by jury members Chaired by R A Mashelkar. MIF will be supporting them over the immediate and longer-term. "COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis. We must create and deploy breakthrough technologies on a war footing and on a huge scale. We at Marico Innovation Foundation have fuelled purposeful innovations in all walks of life in India for close to two decades now. But this pandemic requires specific solutions here and now," said MIF Governing Council Chairperson Raghunath Mashelkar.

It can be noted that a slew of industry people have started donating sums to various corpuses for COVID-19. Mariwala said when it comes to the philosophy of giving, he does not believe in pure financial or monetary help and would like to tie it up to a goal.

The industry veteran, who heads consumer company Marico, said it is too early to assess the impact or predict the future trajectory of consumption in the country and stressed that a spurt in the first week of the lockdown can be attributed to panic buying. He said even though much of the goods his company makes are classified as essentials, there is a difficulty in achieving higher capacity utilisations because of shortage of staff and possible difficulties in distributions.

However, things are improving on both factory output and distribution, he noted. "The effects of the pandemic are drastic on an already stressed world economy and the overstretched Indian Healthcare system. The medical community's contribution and our government's efforts have been commendable thus far but they need more hands-on deck.

"The time is right for us to step in and play a catalytic role by enabling India's best innovative minds to contribute meaningfully towards easing the healthcare community pressure and help save lives," Mariwala added. The number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 1,071 in India on Monday, while the death toll rose to 29, according to the Union Health Ministry.

As the pandemic progresses, the grand challenge may expand to other items of critical need, Mariwala said. Meanwhile, several corporate houses, including Tata, ITC, and HUL, have announced grant to tackle the pandamic of Covid-19.

"Our effort with this initiative is to help relieve some of the stress by contributing towards critical healthcare needs in terms of medical equipment and protective gear for our frontlines. We believe such Innovations could be invaluable both for fighting Covid and any help in bringing affordable healthcare system over longer-term," Amit Chandra MIF Vice-Chairperson Chairman Bain Capital's India office said..


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