Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) along with the A.T.E. Chandra Foundation has announced the creation of a nationwide platform to encourage frugal innovation in devising products and services that can help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in India.

The challenge called #Innovate2BeatCOVID will see the two foundations and Marico’s chairman Harsh Mariwala in his personal capacity come together to offer grants worth ₹2.5 crore in a nationwide hunt for cost-effective ideas for the making of ventilators, personal protective equipment, and other ideas from med-tech entrepreneurs and other innovators.

“The purpose of the grand challenge is to combat short-supply of ventilators, personal protective equipment and other respiratory solutions that can aid the medical fraternity,” a statement issued by MIF said on Monday. “They are looking for existing innovative solutions that can be modified and scaled immediately. As the pandemic progresses, the grand challenge may expand to other items of critical need in consultation with medical experts.”

“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. The need of the hour is to create an opportunity for collaboration and build an ecosystem-led support so that innovators are not bound by challenges of access or ability to scale,” says Mariwala, who is also the founder of MIF. “Marico Innovation Foundation has always been at the forefront of enabling innovation, so it’s only natural that we would like to extend our experience and expertise and equity to innovators who can contribute to beat Covid 19.”

Amit Chandra, chairman of Bain Capital India and vice-chairperson of MIF, stated that India’s large and high-density population may create massive stress on an already fragile healthcare system. “The present initiative was aimed at de-stressing critical healthcare needs in terms of medical equipment and protective gear for our frontline healthcare workers,” Chandra said.

The window for sending in innovative ideas commenced on March 29 and will be open for 30 days. Startups and entries that are launch-ready will be shortlisted by a jury chaired by eminent scientist, R.A. Mashelkar.

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