The pragmatic call to help frontline workers of this nation spurred action among innovators, challenge jury received over 1500 interests from across the country
Marico Innovation Foundation responded to the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic with ‘Innovate2Beat COVID’ a nationwide grand challenge to unearth innovations that can combat the short-supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. The pragmatic call to help the front line workers of this nation spurred action among innovators and the challenge jury received over 1500 interests from across the country during the 20 days period from March 29 to April 18, 2020. Detailed evaluation and due diligence of entries by Advisors Praxis Global Alliance, technical scrutiny by a Technical Panel, followed by intense deliberations by a Jury Panel led to three innovations that emerged as frontrunners with their ingenious PPE solutions. The Foundation along with ATE Chandra Foundation and Harsh Mariwala in his personal capacity have come together to offer total grants of Rs 2.5 crore of which Rs 1.57 crore has been offered to selected PPE solutions.
The winning organisations created sustainable, cost effective and ‘built-for-India’ innovations. They began working on their solutions to support the COVID-19 crisis using quick thinking and agility to deliver solutions for emerging problems. By innovating within their business areas and modifying their existing devices to deliver PPE equipment at a fraction of the cost, they show potential to create large scale positive impact.
Additionally, Marico Innovation Foundation will now take on the next turn in this challenge journey by enabling the selected innovations by a deeper engagement model. Through this, they offer support and hand-on guidance to ascertain the innovation’s success as they march ahead to solve challenges thrown by the global pandemic.
The Foundation has always played a catalytic role for innovations in order to help them achieve scale. They are geared to help the winners in the PPE category ensuring they build on manufacturing, distribution and sales capabilities to disburse upwards of 3.5 lakh masks, 50 thousand complete PPE kits and 4.5 thousand sterilisation units within the next 2-3 months.
In the post-COVID world, innovations such as these will be the biggest driving factor for building the new-world ‘normal’, helping India survive and thrive. Marico Innovation Foundation aims to lay the foundation of a strong support system that will continue to mitigate the challenges we stand to face as a nation now and in the future.
The selected innovations are unique, affordable and can be rapidly manufactured and deployed; thereby easing the already strained medical infrastructure. They are:
1. CREA Worldwide | Grant offered Rs 41,00,000
One of the few players in the market offering a breathable yet hydrophobic PPE kit, CREA relieves COVID-warriors — medical practitioners and frontline workers – of dehydration from commonly-used laminated PPE kits. CREA is using non-laminated fabrics which makes their coveralls more breathable; can be used up to 12 hours even in summer heat. As the country prepares to come out of lockdown, CREA also offers a suite to protect our second line of defence (dentists, general practitioners, policemen, healthcare workers, etc.) comprising face shield, parka and coverall. CREA’s DRDO-approved coveralls bring relief to COVID-doctors and frontline workers, and increase longevity, thereby reducing the massive waste generated in fighting the pandemic. Priced similar to non-breathable kits and with twice the life, CREA’s breathable PPE kits hold the potential to halve the PPE-kit expenditure incurred by hospitals per doctor per day. With the high temperatures of summer approaching, dehydration is a key concern and CREA’s kits are poised to solve this problem for a large population of our frontline COVID-warriors.
2. Log 9 Materials Scientific | Grant offered Rs 76,00,000
A unique multi-focal UV disinfection chamber (called CoronaOven) that can sanitise any surface of all pathogens in only 10 minutes; thus permitting hospitals to re-use masks, gloves and other PPE. Each microwave-sized compact chamber (33-litre) can disinfect 40 masks per hour, thus holding the potential to not only largely reduce the current high pressure on PPE supply, but also massively cut down on PPE waste. In just a month since CoronaOven’s launch, Log 9 has already sold 300+ ovens, which can help users disinfect and re-use up to 30 lakh gloves every month. Apart from hospitals disinfecting PPE, general shops, households and users across the value chain of most small-sized products such as milk packets, food packets, watches, spectacles, bags, etc. can disinfect a plethora of items. The chamber is also finding innovative, customised use cases in airports to disinfect high-contact surfaces such as trolleys, escalator handles, baggage belts, etc.
3. Saral Design Solutions | Grant offered Rs 40,00,000
Saral has promptly innovated to adapt, cost-effectively, its patented sanitary pads producing machine to manufacture higher quality 3-ply surgical masks (as opposed to commonly available 2-ply masks which do not protect against the COVID virus). Saral can manufacture at a rapid rate of 80 masks every minute, and is making these masks available to consumers at a frugal cost, such that the masses of India can afford to adequately purchase protective masks. Saral’s machine has already produced 10 lakh masks since the pandemic began. They are now looking to ramp up production through their decentralised manufacturing capabilities in 20 locations across Tier II & III cities in India. This will enable meeting local demand at a decentralised scale. With the nation about to come out of lockdown, such masks are expected to be in need en masse and Saral is poised to step up to the occasion.
DrvRaghunath Mashelkar, Chairperson, Governing Council, Marico Innovation Foundation and Jury chair said, “Marico Innovation Foundation has been fuelling innovation for close to two decades by celebrating, showcasing and scaling the very best. Amit Chandra prompted us to use this wealth of experience to bring the best and most innovative minds together as this pandemic challenge rose before us.” He added, “I was privileged to chair a truly outstanding jury comprising great eminent experts who had the opportunity of unearthing truly ingenious innovators. These innovators proved their mettle by pivoting their existing businesses and reapplying its tenets to arrive at breakthrough, India specific, affordable yet high quality solutions. To ensure that these solutions finally help our society in these trying times, we will work closely with the winners now to help them convert their great ideas into lasting impact.”
Speaking on the initiative, Harsh Mariwala, Founder, Marico Innovation Foundation & Chairman of Marico said, “These three organisations have created products that are innovative, are of superior quality, can be procured at very affordable price and have the potential to achieve significant impact – and this is exactly the need of the hour. Speed to scale is even more crucial and therefore our role in MIF is not just limited to identifying these innovations but to also help deploy at a large scale to ultimately impact the end-consumers. This initiative was launched with this very aim.”
Amit Chandra, Vice-Chairperson, Marico Innovation Foundation, and Chairman, Bain Capital India said, “I want to congratulate Marico Innovation Foundation’s jury for selecting an amazing set of innovations that have the potential of solving a huge issue facing our society. MIF will work hard towards empowering this wonderful set of early-stage entrepreneurs to rapidly take their innovations to the next stage. “