Building abilities: Fueling the next-gen of assistive technologies

By: |
March 10, 2021 1:15 AM

Social Alpha and SIDBI set up a fund offering financial grant to Social Alpha-incubated startups working in the assistive technology sector

This is because the AT industry’s value chain is broken; distribution, sales and service mechanisms are poorly established, and, in many cases, non-existent.

Social Alpha and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) have joined hands to set up the Swavalamban Divyangjan Assistive Tech Market Access (ATMA) fund, an inclusion fund offering financial grant to Social Alpha-incubated startups working in the assistive technology sector. Each startup will have access to implementation support of up to Rs 20 lakh. The fund will finance upto 50% of product price for the initial users improving the access and reducing the out-of-pocket expenditure for procuring new technologies.

Assistive technologies is an emerging market opportunity in India. Social Alpha —a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology startups— has been playing a key role in market creation through its technology incubation, venture acceleration and seed capital programmes. In addition to providing access to risk capital, Social Alpha has been building a network of clinical partners and NGOs to support the startups in their lab to market journey.

Manoj Kumar, CEO and co-founder, Social Alpha, said: “Creating new markets in assistive technologies has been a big challenge and requires significant investment in ecosystem development. ATMA fund heralds a new era for the assistive technology sector by enabling early adoption of innovative solutions. We believe that the reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure will catalyse demand, which is essential for the long-term sustainability and growth of entrepreneurial risk taking in this sector.”

In India, there are anywhere between 40 to 80 million persons-with-disabilities (PWDs)—that is, one in twelve households has a family member with a disability. However, due to low literacy levels, social stigma and lack of opportunities, people with disabilities remain the most excluded members of society. A large number of children with disabilities stay out of school, disabled adults are likely to be unemployed, families with a disabled member tend to be economically weaker, and the ageing population puts a lot financial stress at both the household and national levels. Though the need for assistive technologies is well established, India lacks a vibrant market for disruptive AT solutions that can uplift people with disabilities.

This is because the AT industry’s value chain is broken; distribution, sales and service mechanisms are poorly established, and, in many cases, non-existent.

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