The Medical Device Innovation Camp (MEDIC) at IIT Bombay that was inaugurated on 28th September and concluded on 2nd October had 60 participants from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Kolkata, Guwahati, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jodhpur, Goa, Surathkal, Cochin, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bhimavaram and other parts of India. They formed 15 inter-disciplinary teams, each led by a doctor, and created proofs-of-concept of innovative solutions for various medical problems provided by top doctors from various hospitals. The Biomedical Engineering and Technology incubation Centre (BETiC) of IITB along with 5 engineering and 5 medical institutes across Maharashtra who have set up BETiC cells, organized the five day Camp.
“I had accumulated two treasures over many years of my life but lost them within four days at the Medical Device Innovation Camp in IIT Bombay. One was my ego and the other was being judgemental” said Dr. Chitra Lekha from Chennai. Other participants also shared their experience during the ‘award acceptance’ speeches on the finale of the Camp. “What we did here in four days is unthinkable, even in four months, usually.” said one participant. Another exclaimed, “I am an early sleeper, and can’t believe still standing here after four straight night-outs”. Sleepless yet untired, the participants mentioned how they were kept on their toes by BETiC mentors.
Dr. Rupesh Ghyar, Chief Mentor of BETiC, said: “Participants did not know what problem they will solve, did not know who will be their team members, and what will be the tools and techniques for solving the problems.” Each team is led by a doctor, supported by design, electronics and mechanical engineers. Most of them are industry professionals, entrepreneurs and teachers; a few are final year students. They were invited to the Camp after passing a screening round based on their domain expertise and creative potential.
The results are impressive, going by the comments of about 50 senior doctors from top hospitals in Mumbai, Pune and other cities who gathered at IITB to evaluate the team presentations. Dr. Manish Agarwal from Hinduja Hospital, Dr. Hemant Bhansali from Nanavati Hospital, Dr. Alaric Aroojis from Wadia Hospital, Dr. Dasmit Singh from BJ Medical College, Pune and others who are associated with various medical device projects at BETiC, grilled the participants while offering many useful suggestions.
There were three groups of devices – screening, surgical and assistive, and five categories of prizes, one each for novelty, research, design, engineering and impact. Screening devices that won prizes in the above categories included intracranial pressure measurement, lung volume measurement, continuous blood glucose monitoring, preterm delivery detection, and peripheral vascular disease detection. The device that won prizes in other groups were anti-bacterial microbiology, nasal bleeding blocker, smart surgery headlights, tumour margin guidance, portable ventilator, splints for burns, sleep apnea preventer, below-knee stump measurement, moving orbital prosthesis, and clubfoot deformity measurement.
The prizes were given away by Dr. Mohit Gamhir, Director-Innovation of Ministry of HRD, Delhi, Dr. Nishigandha Naik, Director of Haffkine Institute, Dr. Anita Aggarwal from Department of S&T, Delhi, Dr. Arun Sapre, Mr. Anil Manekar and Dr. Pragati Gokhale from RG S&T Council, Maharashtra Government, Mr. Hiten Gandhi from Maharashtra State Innovation Society, Prof. B.B. Ahuja, Director of College of Engineering Pune, Prof. A.M. Kuthe, VNIT Nagpur, Mr. Deepankar Bhattarcharya from Autodesk Education, Bangalore and other invited dignitaries.
Dr. Mohit Gambhir, who had also chaired the presentation sessions said, “Innovation is what makes life easier. But innovation itself is a long and hard journey. I still cannot believe that the proof-of-concepts presented by the participants were given to them only 100 hours back, and they did not even know their team members. This shows what we can achieve with an exemplary eco-system like BETiC.”
Many participants of previous MEDIC camps had left lucrative careers elsewhere and joined BETiC. In the last four years, they developed 50 medical devices and filed their patents. Of these, 20 have been commercialized by licensing to startup companies or industry partners. These products, as well as those ready for licensing, were showcased at a concurrent Medical Device Expo (MEDEX), which was inaugurated by Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar and Prof. Subhasis Chaudhury, Director of IITB on the previous day. Over 500 visitors saw the devices and talked to their innovators.
Some of the startups also pitched to potential investors in a special session in the presence of Prof. Santosh Gharpure, who heads SINE, the technology business incubator or IITB. The startups included Ayu Devices, who has already sold over 650 units of their smart stethoscopes; Ayati Devices, who launched a diabetic foot screener; Aumeesh Tech, who have developed a knee ankle foot orthosis; sand Tenon Meditech, who are commercializing a biopsy gun. All these were developed at BETiC, IITB. The investors included MD Agarwal, former President of Bombay Management Association, Nitin Deshmukh from Kotak Private Equity, G. Ramachandran from Keiretsu Forum, Leonard Menezes from Ace Alcobev, Mayur Sirdesai from Somerset Indus, Mauritius, Ram Kedlaya from Keiretsu as well as senior management of several pharma companies including Alembic, Biocon and Torrent. They asked sharp questions about the business model and market traction and offered their guidance and support to the young entrepreneurs.
Prof. B. Ravi, founder of BETiC briefly shared the journey of BETiC and said “BETiC is like a ‘running partner’ to med-tech innovators, offering them water, glucose and encouragement to race faster to the finish line – putting their products in the market. We are now planning to extend our expertise and services to other researchers and entrepreneurs, both within and outside IITB, by setting up a not-for-profit company. This is under active consideration of Maharashtra Government and IIT Bombay.”