- Prosus Social Impact Challenge for Accessibility (SICA) has selected its top start-ups from over 120 applicants.
- Start-ups offer AT solutions in wheelchair technology, hands-free smart device control and sit to stand mechanisms, amongst others.
- The top three start-ups will receive grants of INR 2,500,000 (25 lakhs), INR 1,800,000 (18 lakhs) and INR 1,200,000 (12 lakhs) respectively.
- The Honourable Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Pratima Bhoumik presented the awards on the eve of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
NEW DELHI, Dec. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- India's most innovative start-ups developing assistive technology (AT) to aid people with disabilities have been announced as Rut3 Engineering Pvt. Ltd. from Chennai and Pune, Dextroware Devices Pvt. Ltd. from Chennai, and Translead Medtech Pvt. Ltd. from Indore. Prosus made the announcement in partnership with Startup India, Invest India, and Social Alpha. This marks the third year of the Prosus SICA challenge. The Honourable Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Pratima Bhoumik presented the awards.
Announced on the eve of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the top start-ups represent diverse themes supporting wheelchair technology, hands-free smart device control and sit to stand mechanisms. Rut3 Engineering Pvt. Ltd., Dextroware Devices Pvt. Ltd., and Translead Medtech Pvt. Ltd. will receive grants of INR 2,500,000 (25 lakhs), INR 1,800,000 (18 lakhs) and INR 1,200,000 (12 lakhs) respectively. The grants are intended to help the companies scale and expand their businesses so more persons in India with disabilities can benefit and lead independent, empowered lives.
Delivering the keynote address at the occasion, Pratima Bhoumik said, "The Startup India movement under the vision of PM Modi has made India the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world. We have talented entrepreneurs, we have manufacturing capabilities, we have a big market. All of these need to be harnessed within the Accessible India movement. We are glad that global investors like Prosus are taking note of this sector and backing start-ups that work in assistive technologies. We hope that Prosus will lead the way in making the next unicorn in the accessibility space and bring Digital India and Startup India to Accessible India."
The top three start-ups will take part in the Prosus SICA mentorship programme, along with dVerse Technologies Pvt. Ltd., based in Chennai which created CurIO and Learn and Empower Pvt. Ltd., from Vadodara and Nagpur which innovated Resonate Learning, were placed in fourth and fifth position respectively. The mentorship programme provides each company access to a global network of strategic advisors from Prosus, technical advisors from WHO, AT sector experts from Social Alpha, and knowledge and partnerships specialists from Startup India and Invest India. Additionally, eligible start-ups may have access to follow-on funding and an opportunity to incubate with Social Alpha.
More than 70 million Indians are estimated to live with some form of disability. Many children with disabilities stay out of school, disabled adults are often unemployed, and families with disabled members tend to be economically weaker. Coupled with a geriatric population of over 140 million people in India, it creates a system under tremendous financial stress at both the household and national levels.
When backed with capital and resources, entrepreneurs can solve some of the most complex societal problems. Assistive technology is no different. In less than three years, Prosus SICA has grown from merely a vision to a thriving assistive technology initiative in India. Through SICA, Prosus is building a business case for investments in the AT sector, which it hopes will gain momentum and scale over time.
Since its inception, Prosus SICA start-ups have enabled people with disabilities to find jobs, raised equity on Shark Tank India, and worked with leading Indian companies to build accessibility within their offerings. On 14 September 2022, Prosus launched this year's SICA at the 26th World Investment Conference in Geneva. Over the last few weeks, the start-ups were put through a gruelling three rounds of evaluation to arrive at a list of the top ten finalists. The shortlisted start-ups pitched one final time to a seven-member jury, which included Pooja Mukul, Priyank Yadav, George Sebastian and Rishabh Tripathi.
The top start-up, Rut3 Engineering Pvt. Ltd. aims to enable wheelchair users to have a comfortable experience when using unfriendly infrastructure. Damsus wheel which is an integration of suspension inside wheel provides multi-axis suspension. This ensures safety during front impact accidents, thereby, reducing back injuries, eradicating swing arm and saving life.
Placed second, Dextroware Devices Pvt. Ltd., empowers amputees and people with neurological disorders with hands-free control of smart devices using simple head movements. All the user needs to do is to strap the Mouseware (headgear) and rotate their head to the direction the mouse cursor has to be moved. The tracking sensors transcode the movements into corresponding cursor coordinates on the screen.
In third place, Translead Medtech Pvt. Ltd., is a start-up building an assistive chair for the elderly that utilises a novel compliant hinge mechanism to enable STS (sit to stand) assistance towards people with reduced muscular capabilities in the lower extremities. It has developed Stand at Ease, that minimises the effort required to sit down and stand up from the chair seat.
Congratulating the winners and all applicants, Sehraj Singh, India Managing Director, Prosus, added: "This is a milestone year for Prosus SICA, which has grown over the past three years to become a leading platform for identifying and helping advance the most promising assistive tech start-ups in India. We are very proud of the positive impact the SICA start-ups have had on improving the lives of persons with disabilities. It is a privilege to support these entrepreneurs scale their companies, raise equity and forge new partnerships to strengthen assistive tech adoption in India and beyond. I am hopeful this is the first of many chapters in India's assistive tech industry story."
Suraj Balkrishna Ettam, Co-founder of Rut3 Engineering Pvt. Ltd, the start-up that placed first in SICA 2022, spoke about their experience: "The SICA platform has allowed many start-ups to showcase a range of innovations and their impact on the assistive tech industry. We are grateful to Prosus for arming us with the right resources to put our solutions into action for greater good."
In the third year of SICA, over 10 start-ups that had built a prototype and completed user testing were evaluated by an expert jury, real-time, on criteria of product readiness, market needs, financial sustainability, business scalability, and future roadmap. Special attention was paid to the user-friendliness of the products outside of controlled therapy and rehabilitation sessions.
Prosus is a global consumer internet group and one of the largest technology investors in the world. Operating and investing globally in markets with long-term growth potential, Prosus builds leading consumer internet companies that empower people and enrich communities.
The group is focused on building meaningful businesses in the online classifieds, food delivery, payments and fintech, and education technology sectors in markets including India and Brazil. Through its ventures team, Prosus invests in areas including health, logistics, blockchain, and social commerce. Prosus actively seeks new opportunities to partner with exceptional entrepreneurs using technology to improve people's everyday lives.
Every day, billions of customers use the products and services of companies that Prosus has invested in, acquired, or built. For an overview, please visit our Companies page.
For listed companies where we have an interest, please see: Tencent, Delivery Hero, Remitly, Trip.com, Udemy, Skillsoft, Sinch, and Similarweb.
For more information, please visit www.prosus.com.
About Startup India
Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to catalyse start-up culture and build a solid and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India. The initiative has rolled out several programs intending to support entrepreneurs, build a robust start-up ecosystem and transform India into a country of job creators instead of job seekers.
For more information, please visit www.startupindia.gov.in.
About Invest India
Invest India, set up in 2009, is a non-profit venture under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
As the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, Invest India focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and developing new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India. In addition to a core team that focuses on sustainable investments, Invest India also partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organisations. Invest India also actively works with several Indian states to build capacity and bring in global best practices in investment targeting, promotion, and facilitation areas.
For more information, please visit www.investindia.gov.in.
About Social Alpha
Social Alpha is a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology start-ups that address the most critical social, economic, and environmental challenges through the power of entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has supported over 150 start-ups, including 50+ seed investments.
For more information, please visit www.socialalpha.org.