Lumos Health, a market access programme launched by Anthill Ventures and HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG) for health start-ups, is enabling an innovation ecosystem in India’s life sciences sector to usher new paradigms in patient care
By Usha Sharma
Anthill Ventures, an investment and speed scaling platform for early growth stage startups, in partnership with HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG), the provider of cancer care in India, is powering Lumos Health, a market access programme focussed on scaling technology start-ups in healthcare and life sciences.
The programme which is focussed on scouting startups in the verticals of oncology, fertility, genomics, bioinformatics and research and diagnostics, recently shortlisted six start-ups from a total of 120 applications across 10 countries to offer its support. The selected companies are Alixir, AyuRythm, BiMedis, C-Test Medicals, Kronikare and RayBaby.
Reportedly, these six selected startups have the potential to enhance the healthcare and life sciences innovation ecosystem in India. The entrepreneurs have developed solutions using key technologies such as image-based pathology, mobile health, artificial intelligence (AI), early detection of cancers, easy wound assessments. If leveraged effectively, these solutions can help usher newer efficiencies in healthcare. And, an endeavour like Lumos is trying to achieve just that.
The 12-month programme launched late last year is designed to help start-ups focussed on emerging technologies in healthcare and life sciences, accelerate their business growth by providing them support and mentorship. Lumos Health will help selected startups to raise investments, provide assistance with mentoring and regulatory approvals, increase their customer base and generate more revenues.
But, how did this initiative come into existence?
A strategic tie up
Anjali Ajaikumar, Program Director, Lumos Health & Vice President – Strategy & Quality, HCG Enterprise explains, “Lumos was the result of a fortuitous meet between HCG and Anthill Ventures. Though the meeting was a chance/coincidental, what followed was the aligning of like-minded organisations looking to create a space for entrepreneurs to speed with scale.”
Prasad Vanga, Founder and CEO, Anthill Ventures says, “Lumos is the fruit of my discussion with Anjali when we met at the sidelines of a conference in Switzerland.”
Ajaikumar states, “Together, we hope that individual strengths which we bring to the table as diverse verticals in a growing market will help us make a difference. Anthill, with its wide global network and experience in the world of VCs is the other side of the coin to HCG, which will help to bring in global clinical outreach, clinical and technical expertise and clinical numbers. This makes this partnership a robust, wholesome one, both for the start-ups and us.”
Anthill Ventures is known for constituting global speed scaling ecosystem for start-ups and enables them with an extensive global network of Venture Capital firms, Private Equity firms, Family Offices, and Luminaries in the technology industry. Its ability is to invest, rapidly scale early-stage companies, subsequently enabling them to raise funds within 12 to 18 months. Similarly, HCG is known for its pioneered introduction and adoption of several technologies in the country and is amongst the first to introduce high-intensity flattening filter free mode radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and robotic radiosurgery, in the treatment of cancer in India.
Thus, the strategic partnership between HCG and Anthill, will enable start-ups to enhance their product and offer them the opportunity to scale up with the help of 30+ partner companies in both local and global networks, within the Lumos programme.
A lofty vision
For both companies, the partnership aims to create a difference in the quality of health and patient care.
Commenting on the objective and vision behind launching the Lumos platform, Anjali Ajaikumar says, “The founding vision of platform is that we collaborate to work together in order to help start-ups speed with scale. With this vision, both HCG and Anthill want to ensure that entrepreneurs with ideas that benefit healthcare are given the right assistance and guidance to grow their company quickly. At HCG, we help in many different aspects of the clinical processes to ensure that the start-ups meet all requirements, creating a mindset change in the end-users about the benefits and impact of the product on outcomes, which is also an essential part for the growth of the company.”
Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman and CEO, HCG Enterprise explains, “Today technology has become a crucial part of healthcare. There is an advent of various innovations to bring about better outcomes in healthcare, particularly in fields like cancer, diabetes and other wellness programmes. HCG is looking at being at the forefront of bringing new disruptive technologies. To encourage this, we have partnered with Anthill to give an opportunity to the young minds of India and across the globe to come up with their proposals. I sincerely hope that our shared enthusiasm and passion for working in the healthcare segment will result in a grand success for everyone involved.”
Vanga informs, “With the shared vision of bringing innovation to healthcare and the combined knowledge of scaling technology businesses in this sector, Anthill Ventures and HCG decided to partner with each other.”
Selecting the deserving ones
Anjali Ajaikumar explains the selection process and informs, “Each startup is rigorously vetted to ensure that their potential, scope and applicability are on point to the vision of the Lumos Programme. This year, we had over 120 applications from across the globe. And have closed with six of the startups. We hope that each of these six start ups is going to be quite successful in their respective fields.”
All the six start ups have been chosen for their capabilities to bring in solutions suitable for the healthcare, life sciences and innovation ecosystem in India.
The innovative startups can be scaled up to a level where they can expand their footprints globally and deliver better healthcare solutions. However, they too need a culture where innovation can be assisted.
And, this is where the Lumos Health programme comes in.
Commenting on how it can help startups achieve accelerated growth, Ramanath Padmanabhan, Co-Founder and Director, AyuRythm, one of the start up company selected by Lumos Health, states, “HCG-Anthill Lumos programme is a match made in heaven. Lumos is a one-of-its-kind programme which totally focusses on healthcare space and brings in business, market, technology, clinical and regulatory support under one roof. Graduating from this programme will help us to scale with speed.”
Dr Zahra Hussaini, CEO and Director, C Test Medicals, a start-up selected by Lumos Health says, “Funding is a major obstacle for us. If the project is well-funded, we can reach out to farthest areas and have mobile vans which can visit these villages. Reaching out to people is a difficult task. However, it is only with the help of the right organisations and channels that we can go out in a big way, which we need to do. To create an awareness in a country like India would take immense effort and support from the government. To be able to reach far flung areas of the country, we need the government’s help. With large marketing teams, we will be able to raise awareness through TV, radio, billboards. Screening the message in the cinema halls, like there is for the dangers of smoking, could go a long way into raising the necessary concerns.”
Commenting on receiving support from Lumos Platform, Dr Hussaini says, “With help from Lumos Health, we want to set up hundreds of centres in rural and interior areas where people are vulnerable due to the lack of treatment. We want to reach those who cannot come to us. We also expect to increase our sales, reach out to doctors through their network, expand the market for our furnished product through sales, marketing and promotion and createan awareness through their expertise, resources and affiliated chain of hospitals.”
Thus, the chosen startups are very gungho about the endeavour and expect to reap a lot of benefits due to their inclusion in this prograame.
Preparing for a tech-driven future in healthcare
Now, an interesting fact to note is that of the six selected start ups, three of them are backed by AI platforms. What does this indicate?
Anjali Ajaikumar explains, “Three of our startups RayBaby, KroniKcare and Alixer are backed by AI-based platform. We believe that the future of healthcare is in technology and AI, machine learning will play a pivotal role in this. AI would work best with robust prospective and retrospective data, which is what HCG can bring to the table for these startups, making it a game-changer. Using this data at lightning speed to aid in decision making, such as modalities of treatment, speedier diagnostics would mean better patient care with greater outcomes. The benefits also extend to the doctors helping them to prioritise on care delivery, personalised medicine, genome sequencing for predictions, drug reactions etc.”
Sanchi Poovaya, COO, Raybaby, says, “The increase in the use of smart technologies in healthcare and health management segment coupled with our unique non-contact-based technology opens up the market for us.” Her innovation is a non-wearable sleep and breathing monitoring device.
Collaborating for progress
Health-tech startups need to navigate through a complex regulatory mechanism, which is a daunting task. Partnering with successful private entities such as Anthill Ventures and HCG through Lumos Health can be beneficial in the long run where the government can maximise the impact of its schemes such as Startup India.
Expressing his willingness to partner with government Vanga says, “Lumos works with innovative health-tech startups in co-creating disruptive technology for the majority of the world, transfer technolo
gy from our portfolio start-ups from advanced economies to emerging economies like India is a distinct reality and we’re thrilled to enable this vision. Lumos Health is open for collaboration with the government (local and foreign), health-tech enterprises, investors, hospitals and other enablers in this space.”
Vanga informs, “In the health-tech start-up space, the gestation period of a start-up is much longer than some of the other industries and the government’s initiative of setting up dedicated funding and grant institutes like BIRAC are well received. However, the start-up ecosystem has centered around three big cities Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, and a few tier 1 cities. For a pan-India government scheme, the policy needs to be equitable for the masses, efficient in RoI and effective in the implementation and has more scope for improvement.”
Thus, Lumos Health seems to be an interesting and promising programme, both in its intent and design. Hopefully, it will provide more impetus towards the creation of an ecosystem in India’s healthcare wherein innovation can thrive and serve unmet medical needs.