Reports about hospitals in small towns struggling with obsolete machines and redundant medical technologies are a dime a dozen. Lack of access to new-age medical equipment due to their exhorbitant cost and need for trained personnel has been a key reason for high mortality and morbidity rates in hospitals in rural India. One made-in-India medtech company is trying to change this. InnAccel Technologies, founded by Siraj Dhanani and A Vijayarajan, has developed a portfolio of novel, IP-protected, globally certified medical devices that are designed, engineered, and priced, for India and global emerging markets.
“We started with a vision of enabling medical technology innovation through a bespoke incubation and funding platform to support startups. But very soon in our journey, we realised that very few medtech startups were doing ground-up innovation—creating novel technologies and patented products for Indian needs,” says Siraj Dhanani, founder, InnAccel. Most companies were in the space of incremental innovation—i.e., innovating on existing technologies to enhance features or reduce cost. InnAccel saw this gap as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and from 2014, it started to innovate for India.
InnAccel’s flagship product is VAPCare, designed for ICU patients who are on a ventilator. It automates a complex process of oral hygiene management that is today performed manually by nurses. “In India, we have high rates of lung infection, or VAP, in patients on a ventilator, which leads to the majority of deaths on a ventilator. VAPCare automates this critical process for the first time, reducing the rates of lung infection in these patients,” explains Dhanani.
Another game-changing device in its portfolio is Saans, a neonatal CPAP system that is portable and can be powered not just by electricity or a rechargeable battery but manually, thus helping save the lives of premature babies. “In India, over 1.6 lakh babies die each year due to lack of CPAP therapy- providing breathing support to premature babies—as most babies are not born in high-end hospitals with access to an NICU. Saans is the first CPAP system in the world that is completely infrastructure-independent,” he says.
InnAccel’s products incorporate a range of technologies—from material science, mechanical engineering, electronics, industrial design, to software, and machine-learning algorithms. For example, InnAccel’s Fetal Lite, one of the world’s first labour monitoring systems with fetal ECG technology, has leveraged chip technology from Texas Instruments, and has collaborated with University of California, San Diego, to develop its proprietary machine learning algorithms.
Since 2014, InnAccel and its divisions, Coeo Labs and Sattva MedTech, have been developing a diverse portfolio of innovative products in three different therapeutic areas—ENT, critical care and obstetrics/gynaecology. InnAccel is reimagining medical device innovation by using the Stanford Biodesign Process to uncover local Indian unmet clinical needs and engineering world-class technologies to address these needs. A Vijayarajan, founder, InnAccel, says that the startup does not make low-cost versions of existing Western products. “Our products are based on novel, patented, technologies, and typically do not have direct competitors in the market. Having said that, our products are priced to be affordable to the relevant healthcare settings in India,” he adds.
The Bengaluru-based company has now set an ambitious plan to create a portfolio of 20 transformational products by 2025. “We are currently working on other products in our areas of focus, and we plan to set up research teams in one or two new areas in the coming years. We haven’t yet started selling our products outside of India, but plan to do so next year,” says Vijayarajan. It plans to set up commercial operations in India, Southeast Asia and Africa as part of its growth trajectory in the next three years. The company also has its eyes set on tapping into the developed markets like the US, EU, China and Japan through strategic partnerships.