India is now struggling to contain a second wave of Covid-19 infections much more severe than its first wave last year.
The pandemic has brought an unprecedented sense of urgency to the evolution of scientific innovations — from the conception of an early idea or a prototype to mass production and on-ground deployment of the innovation. The need of the hour is for the government, industry and academia to consolidate this multitude of innovation efforts for a concerted response to Covid-19.
From new vaccines that were made in a matter of months to new technology platforms to the sheer creativity, India has become hub of path-breaking innovation.
Indian Heathcare startups rise to the occasion
Asimov Robotics, a start-up based in Kerala, has deployed robots at entrances to office buildings and other public places to dispense hand sanitiser and deliver public health messages about the virus. These robots are also being deployed in hospital isolation wards to carry food and medicines, which eases the pressure on medical staff.
Another start-up Marut Dronetech has partnered with state governments to test the use of drones to monitor adherence to social distancing rules. Drones are also being used to deliver medical supplies and even check people’s temperature using thermal imaging.
A home-based coronavirus (Covid-19) testing kit by Pune-based company Mylab Discovery Solutions has been launched in India. Self-test kits can potentially be a game-changer in Covid-19 management in India. These can cut queues in laboratories, reduce costs, dissipate the burden on existing manpower for sample collection from homes, and provide quick results (within 15 minutes), leading to prompt treatment and isolation.
IIT Madras incubated start-up developed portable Covid-19 hospital Unit – MediCAB. MediCAB is a decentralized approach to detect, screen, identify, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients in their local communities through these portable microstructures. It comes equipped with a prefabrication modular technology and a telescopic frame that allows the model to be shrunk to 1/5th of its original size, which makes it convenient for storage and transportation. Post-COVID-19, these can be transformed into micro-hospitals/clinics in rural India where the medical infrastructure needs to be augmented.
Sweden join forces to help India fight the battle
Team Sweden has joined forces to help India fight the current devastating Covid-19 surge. There are approximately 220 Swedish companies present in India which employ close to 200,000 directly and another 2,200,000 indirectly. Like the rest of the country, almost every company has lost employees, or their family members, to Covid.
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce India (SCCI) has launched an initiative under Kraftsamla to coordinate all efforts being made locally that can broadly be classified under saving lives, livelihood, prevention and building for the future.
The Swedish companies are engaged in creating Covid Care Centres, bringing Oxygen Concentrators, Vaccination Campaigns and also working with issues around livelihood for migrant workers, women and children, as well as mental health and trauma counselling.
Whilst the Chamber manages efforts in India, the Sweden India Business Council (SIBC) in Stockholm is coordinating with headquarters of Swedish businesses. This far the total amount raised outside India is 46 MSEK (5.5 MUSD).
The Swedish Government Sweden has also donated 200 oxygen concentrators to India. Sweden supports the Indian Red Cross through IFCR (International Federation of Red Cross). The current Swedish support to IFCR is 70 million SEK. Sweden is the fourth largest contributor to the international vaccine initiative COVAX and has announced an additional support of 1 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX.
Amidst the surge of cases due to the second wave of Coronavirus, a 100-bed COVID Care Centre (CCC), promoted and sponsored by VOLVO in partnership with BBMP, has been set up at Karnataka Institute of Endocrinology on Old Madras Road, CV Raman Nagar in Bangalore. The facility will commence operations in two phases. The phase I (comprising 40 beds) fully sponsored by VOLVO Group and supported by IKEA India.
Dr Per Arne Wikström has been appointed the new Counsellor for Innovation and Research in New Delhi. Per-Arne most recently worked as Head of Swedish communication at the Swedish Institute. He has a background as a researcher in Business studies and has been leading innovation centers and industry-university collaborations within the university sector for many years.
“Having the opportunity to work with connecting Swedish interest within the fields of science and innovation with India with its enormous potential and global significance for sustainability issues is really exciting! There is a solid foundation in place and many excellent colleagues and partners, my task will be to continue to develop the collaboration.”
Per-Arne will begin in New Delhi as soon as the situation with the pandemic has eased. Until then, he will be stationed in Stockholm.
Stay home – Stay Safe!
Per Arne Wikström, Leena Kukreja and Mini Nair