The start-up incubators in what is known as one of the most sought-after technical institutes in India are well-known. IIT has been fostering tech-based entrepreneurship among its students by facilitating the transformation of ideas into real entrepreneurial ventures through prototype funds, start-up accelerators, etc. However, while the entire world has been grappling with the unprecedented pandemic, these brainchildren of IIT alumni are coming up with technological innovations to help us tackle the same.
With the increasing need for ventilators in hospitals amid the rise in the number of Covid-19 patients, Nocca Robotics, a start-up based in IIT Kanpur, has developed a customized ICU-grade ventilator. Addressing the cost factor to make them more affordable and accessible, the price of each ventilator has been brought down to around Rs 1.5 lakhs when its imported counterparts cost over Rs 8 lakh. Furthermore, emanated from IIT-Guhawati is the start-up Marut Dronetech that harnesses artificial intelligence to facilitate better sanitization. Their drones are being increasingly used for disinfecting contaminated areas, delivery of medicines, and collection of blood samples – something that is a must-have in hospitals where maintaining social distance is nearly impossible. Currently, they are being used across eight districts in Telangana not only as a means to ensure no-contact delivery of medical supplies but gain an aerial view of the public for crowd control.
However, such innovations are not just limited to the start-ups incubated on campus. For instance, Bangalore-based Asteria Aerospace, which was backed by Boundary holding, a Luxembourg-based investment firm founded by Rajat Khare, an IIT Delhi alumnus, has been developing high-end drone-based solutions, the latest being developed for online food deliveries. It has been producing a line of specialized unmanned aerial platforms for various sectors including construction, oil, mining, etc that help in deriving actionable insights from aerial data that can be leveraged further for various decision-making processes. However, its recent innovation of ‘drone food delivery’ comes as a means to prevent human contact during online meal delivery. Though an experimental project, for now, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had recently given the nod to delivery firms and approved around 13 companies including Asteria Aerospace to begin testing drones for deliveries beyond visual line of sight.
Asteria Aerospace currently has majority stakes acquired by Reliance Industries Ltd however, it was earlier being invested by the European investment firm – Boundary Holding. “We are very glad to add Asteria Aerospace to our portfolio of investments in Artificial Intelligence. I believe that with this association, the company is well-positioned to fly higher,” said Rajat Khare when his firm initially built an association with the drone technology company. Boundary Holding mainly serves as a bridge fund for start-ups and invests in artificial intelligence and deep-tech industries.
It is thus immensely laudable to see initiatives like these coming from IIT alumni, helping in complementing the Covid-19 preventive measures already being undertaken by the government and making them all the more seamless and efficient. Such innovative contributions – whether done independently or through symbiotic academia-industry relationship, will undoubtedly augur well for the overall growth of the nation’s economy but more importantly, help tackle what is the direst problem at this point in time.