ACT Grants to offer financial muscle to hundreds of health-centric desi firms

The newly set up ACT Grants, a not for profit coalition, has issued grants to 50 different start-ups that are focused on various aspects of COVID-19 such as prevention, testing, care-giving, data collection, data analysis, management of medical records, mental health & depression and vaccine research.

ACT Grants, that already has a corpus of ₹100 crore, has disbursed ₹60 crore to 50 different ventures since its inception in April this year. It aims to offer grants to more number of pandemic-focussed tech ventures in 100 districts across 22 states in the country.

ACT Grants is the coming together of a bunch of venture capital firms including Sequoia India, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Ventures, SAIF Partners, Matrix Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital and Chiratae Ventures. Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Dell Foundation, Omidyar Network and Wadhwani Foundation have contributed to the pool. Also, dozens of VC partners, industry leaders, technocrats and angel investors are part of the coalition. Some of the key people behind this initiative are: Prashanth Prakash and Shekhar Kirani, both partners at Accel, Mohit Bhatnagar, MD, Sequoia India, Vani Kola, MD, Kalaari Capital, Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Co-Founder, Urban Company, Mekin Maheshwari, Founder, Udhyam Learning Foundation, Mukesh Bansal, Co-Founder,, Nachiket Mor of Bill and Melinda Founadation apart from Biocon MD, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Infosys co-founders Kris Gopalakrishnan and Nandan Nilekani.

``It all began when some of us noticed a community of tech entrepreneurs, a mix of established firms, start-ups and newly launched ones exclusively to combat COVID-19, on a Telegram group. We watched the conversations for sometime and saw great ideas and innovative pandemic solutions emerging out of it,’’ Prashanth Prakash spokesperson at ACT Grants told The Hindu. “Most of these conversations were around how does one can leverage technology to fight the pandemic. However, we realised this community required easy and quick access to a formal pool of capital and that’s when we came up with a sizeable corpus under Act Grants.’’

ACT Grants has plans to scale up this initiative and make it a permanent, beyond the pandemic, countrywide exercise with a view to improve the overall quality of healthcare in the country. Some 90% of decisions around treating COVID-19 patients can be taken based on data (monitoring the essential parameters) and intensivists will be able to preemptively identify which patients’ condition will deteriorate based on these vitals, as per the entity,

“These companies, we invested, are now building a suite of products, solutions, technologies and platforms that can eventually become standards in our healthcare industry. The short-term focus is on the pandemic, while in the mid to long long term, we hope to see this collaboration emerging to a powerful platform that will significantly bring in scale and quality in healthcare in terms of reach, speed of delivery and cost,’’ added Mr. Prakash.

ACT Grants is currently reviewing a pool of 1,600 health entrepreneurs and their ideas and a community of over 100 volunteers are helping the entity in doing due diligence.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 8:12:26 AM |

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