The IIT Madras Research Park (IITMRP) has incubated and supported around 10 start-ups in the Assistive Technology (AT) space and intends to increase this number by ten-fold in the future.
At present, the park works with start-ups such as Neomotion, Dextroware, Yali, Sociodent, Enability Foundation, Invention labs (Avaz) and Kriyaneuro Technologies.
Each of the start-ups housed inside the research park works towards bringing a positive change to society. For instance, Neomotion creates life transformative wheelchairs for the physically challenged and the elderly with an option of a motorised add-on for independent outdoor mobility. Yali aims at delivering affordable solutions for people with locomotor disabilities. Currently, they design, develop and manufacture electrically powered three-wheelers, specifically to cater to wheelchair users, persons with locomotor disabilities and the elderly. Invention Lab’s product Avaz has revolutionised augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in India. It is developed for people with speech difficulties. This one-of-a-kind device empowers people to communicate their thoughts, emotions, ideas, needs and wants. Kriyaneuro Technologies specialises in studying human brain activity and its application in developing devices and therapies for people with neural and motor disorders. They work to improve diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for patients with various neuromotor disabilities. Sociodent works towards redefining oral healthcare for dependent and disadvantaged individuals. Their first product is a mouthpiece-based oral hygiene device tailormade for dependent individuals.
Tie-up for AT access
The IITMRP has also recently partnered with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) to advocate for policy changes to improve access to AT for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). The aim is to empower PwDs to live healthy, productive, independent and dignified lives. It also believes that this would open up the scope for products in India’s geriatrics market.
In collaboration with the AssisTech Foundation (ATF), the research park has created a database of around 200 start-ups in the AT space, and will support the scaling up of the most promising start-ups.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that although 1 billion people in the world are in need of AT, only 1 in 10 people have access to it. The number of persons with disabilities in India is 26.8 million as per the 2011 census data and the actual number could be higher, research park officials said.