Govt does well to collaborate with start-ups for its CoWIN platform, needs to sustain such tie-ups post Covid also
Given how successful the ‘hack the crisis’ challenges have been in India and around the world, it is not surprising that the government is also adopting a similar approach as far as vaccine distribution is concerned. On Thursday, the Union IT minister unveiled yet another challenge to urge start-ups to improve mechanisms for the government’s CoWIN app. The government will shortlist five applicants, each of whom will receive Rs 2 lakh to develop their solution. The top-two contestants will receive Rs 40 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, respectively, to integrate their solutions with the government system. While the government has the back-end ready for user registration and management, it will still need to streamline supply-chain processes once a vaccine is made available. Moreover, given this can also pave the e-vaccination programme for other diseases, the application is expected to have long-term use.
While the government has done well to drop its scepticism of start-ups and integrate their solutions to improve efficiency, it needs to ensure that such collaboration sustains in a post-pandemic scenario as well. State governments collaborated with start-ups like Garuda, using their drones to sanitise areas.
Kerala had a tie-up with Asimov Robotics to supply self-sanitising robots for its hospitals. But overall, the states have had a poor track record of collaborating with start-ups on healthcare. Karnataka and Rajasthan have been one of the few states to implement such innovative solutions. More states need to bring start-ups on board. Hopefully, the gains made on technological collaborations to find solutions to Covid-19-specific problems retain momentum; a lot of the digital solutions that have emerged are not ‘boxed in’ in terms of applicability; the government needs to create a new private-public collaboration paradigm.