With an aim to address the issues of the healthcare system in India, two brothers - Adithya Pasupuleti and Gautham Pasupuleti started a company called Biodesign Innovation Labs, a healthcare technology and medical device-based startup. The main focus of the startup is to reduce the mortality and morbidity rate in children less than 5 years through Innovative medical technologies by providing low-cost ventilators to the Indian Market. One of their main technology-driven products that is gaining popularity worldwide is RespirAID.
Gautham Pasupuleti before commencing the startup along with his brother Adithya served as the Product Manager at a Corporate Company and a Startup in Chennai and Bangalore. Besides this, he was the Innovator and Researcher at MIT Media Labs Initiatives in developing innovative eye care solutions for screening and diagnostics of eye diseases in association with LVPEI. His keen interest in developing medical technologies has led him to develop various medical technologies like CornealX an AI-based approach for solving health care problems, which is also a part of Biodesign Innovation Labs’ product.
Our curiosity to know more about the healthcare startup, latest innovations and its contribution in the health sector, persuaded the CircuitDigest team to approach Mr. Gautham Pasupuleti, CEO and managing director of BioDesign Innovation Labs and ask few questions to which his replies are jotted below.
What inspired you to start Bio Design Innovation Labs?
Our team had been observing various problems and needs in the healthcare system in India. Adithya Pasupuleti, founder of the company had spent a significant amount of time understanding various problems at hospitals such as AIIMS hospitals, in South India at various capacities. Through design thinking, the approach to problem-solving and building solutions that cater to specific needs were the primary motivation behind starting this Medtech company. Our company “Biodesign Innovation Labs Private Limited” was started at Bengaluru. Me and Adithya had the vision to make healthcare accessible and affordable to all.
What is the company currently focusing on?
One of our key focuses is reducing mortality due to respiratory illnesses. Respiratory illness is one of the major causes of deaths in the developing countries and we visited many hospitals across India to understand the various pain-points in the hospital system especially in ICU, emergency, and pediatrics.
We identified many problems and needs in the respiratory care, pediatric/neonatal age group which helped us develop different types of medical devices catering to those needs. One of our initial awards was CAMTech National Jugaadathon 2017 from Global Health MGH, Elevate 100 from KBITS which helped us to accelerate product development catering to the pediatric age group by developing respiratory support devices. We are also supported by Nidhi Prayas and BIRAC. The company is focused on developing lifesaving technologies, innovations and making it accessible across various markets through partnerships and collaborations. It is our mission to impact billions of people with affordable and accessible medical technologies that can save lives.
Tell us about RespirAID and how it differs from other ventilators in the Market?
Respiratory illness is one of the major reasons for mortality globally. 1 in 6 deaths is due to respiratory illnesses. We have identified various problems and needs associated with the existing standard of care in this vast field of respiratory care. One of the problems we identified was the lack of ventilators and shortage of resources which was the major cause of mortality and morbidity. With this initial problem statement and need statement, our team at Biodesign Innovation Labs has designed and developed the product RespirAID that caters to the need.
RespirAID is a mechanical ventilation device that is developed by Biodesign Innovation Labs to make healthcare accessible and affordable. It is an alternative for prolonged manual ventilation using bag valve mask devices and can safely deliver positive pressure ventilation to patients with need of ventilation. During the shortage of ventilators or within the transit of patients, our solution- RespirAID can be used until sophisticated ventilators are available. The device can save the lives of patients with respiratory illness, during emergencies, etc. The device is different from other ventilators with its novel functionalities, easy to use capabilities, portable solution for transit use, proprietary design and technology of data processing and affordable solution.
RespirAID has been shortlisted by Qualcomm Design in India 2019 Challenge, tell us about it.
We have received tremendous support from Qualcomm as part of our Qualcomm Design in India 2019 Challenge. They have connected us with Government officials such as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and DPIIT Startup India with meet and greet sessions. In addition to this, they have been providing us with technical support, business workshops and mentoring. We are grateful for Qualcomm to support our startup with its initiatives through QDIC.
We will be pitching for the finals during March 2020. We are positive about our progress and scaling with speed is something we have learned during this cohort. In October 2019, we presented our innovation RespirAID at Xpomet Medicinale - Healthcare Conference in Berlin, Germany. We have received a great response from the industry experts and we see that our products for the global market including the US, Europe in addition to India and other developing countries.
Being a Healthcare Start-up, what technical difficulties did you face with your product in India?
For a startup that is not initially well funded, it is important to have sustainable funding to cover the expenses for the operation of the company. We are grateful to IKP, BIRAC, Nidhi Prayas and the Karnataka Government for supporting our innovation with mentorship, funding, and incubation. With such an excellent ecosystem, startups need to focus on their product/service to get it to market after validation. One of the top challenges that a biotech/medtech startup faces are taking their idea to market following the regulatory pathways.
Thanks to IKP, BIRAC, Nidhi Prayas, and KBITS, we are constantly in touch with industry experts who could provide valuable suggestions and advice as part of the regulatory hurdles that startups face. There are also a lot of regulatory workshops conducted by the government of India which create a clear pathway for startups in terms of regulations and quality standards. We are overwhelmed with the support from the government and grateful for mentoring/incubation support from IKP to help us in overcoming these challenges that every startup medtech/biotech face.
How do you see the Healthcare Industry in India upgrading with the latest technology? Where do you think more focus should be given?
We need more innovations in healthcare to make solutions universally accessible to everyone irrespective of the socio-economic strata and background. There are large disparities between government healthcare centers and private healthcare centers from tertiary care to primary care. We need to build solutions that are innovative and can bridge these disparities and reach the last mile. This is irrespective of the technology that is being implemented. The question should be in our approach to solving problems after identifying the problems in healthcare. Better policies from the government combined with innovative solutions from startup and industry can address the pain-points in our society and make healthcare accessible to the poor. Building sophisticated Artificial Intelligence solutions and platforms for screening, diagnostics, monitoring, management, and therapeutics can accelerate treatment and provide reliable solutions. In addition to AI, there is more investment required for startups in healthcare to pursue higher challenges and to make better technologies for tomorrow’s challenges.
Tell us about your team and office set-up.
Our team consists of doctors, engineers, researchers, designers, domain experts and public health professionals working on developing lifesaving innovations to improve quality of care and save lives. We are based out of Bangalore, India. Ecosystem support has been tremendous since the inception of our company. We have been supported by the Government of Karnataka, BIRAC- DBT Government of India, DST Nidhi Prayas to help us with Research and Development. In addition to this, IKP Knowledge Park has provided constant support with incubation, mentoring and funding support. We are grateful to all our supporters who helped us achieve our goals and continue to do so.
How does your electronics supply chain work for RespirAID? Building a cost-effective product should have needed a scrutinized supply chain.
We are developing the products in-house and all the R&D activities take place in our company. We spent a lot of time identifying the right components. Making the product affordable is one of the primary factors for us and we tend to spend more time in identifying the right approach that is in the best interest of the product. This involves a lot of R&D in analyzing, testing different things and figuring out. We try to source a few components from online electronics authorized manufacturers, resellers or distributors, etc. based on the requirement.
What are the ways you are adopting to reach the masses?
Our company Biodesign Innovation Labs was founded with the core principles of making healthcare accessible and affordable to all through innovation and technologies. In this context, we work with doctors and hospitals across different states and socio-economic strata to provide solutions for unmet needs. We are working to collaborate with government agencies to help us make our solution reach the masses and also help us in establishing partnerships with distributors and private hospital chains. Our innovations such as Respap and RespirAID are both suitable for low resource healthcare settings including rural, semi-rural and urban poor regions.
What kind of talents are you looking for in today’s Engineers? Is Biodesign Innovation Labs currently hiring?
Yes, our company Biodesign Innovation Labs is hiring at the moment. We are looking for passionate individuals who are highly talented designers, engineers, software developers and public health professionals to join our team. People with a passion to put in their best efforts and those who are willing to work with enthusiasm in making affordable and accessible respiratory support devices and mechanical ventilation devices that can save lives of people in India and Globally are welcome onboard. We are always looking for the best talent in Software development, Embedded Systems, and Product Design/Mechanical Engineering.