Startup Saturday: An initiative aimed at launching innovations

The Quest - a collaboration by Birac, Social Alpha and Mpashis - is a search for startups in the assistive technology sector to support innovations focussed on enabling and empowering solutions for persons with disabilities
The Quest - a collaboration by Birac, Social Alpha and Mpashis - is a search for startups in the assistive technology sector to support innovations focussed on enabling and empowering solutions for persons with disabilities.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)
The Quest - a collaboration by Birac, Social Alpha and Mpashis - is a search for startups in the assistive technology sector to support innovations focussed on enabling and empowering solutions for persons with disabilities.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)
Updated on Jul 20, 2019 04:03 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByNamita Shibad

It’s not a company we feature this week, but an initiative that, as Meenu Bhambhani, VP, CSR, Mphasis, puts it: “Is aimed at introducing game-changing innovations to the market; building a cohesive ecosystem with critical organisations to significantly fast-track the lab-to-market journey for innovators. This can really move the needle for disability inclusion in India.”

The ‘D’ word; a beacon for startups who want to marry innovation and impact society with a clear focus on the marginalised, old, and the ‘D’isabled.

The startup in out nets today (see box) is “stuck” at the lab-tomarket phase and could do with a chance to pitch on the Indian version of Sharktank, which does not exist, yet. 

Hence, The Quest - a collaboration by Birac, Social Alpha and Mpashis - is a search for startups in the assistive technology sector to support innovations focussed on enabling and empowering solutions for persons with disabilities.

Social Alpha is built around a not-for-profit platform, Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) and operates through a nationwide network of technology and business incubation infrastructure, sponsored and enabled by Tata Trusts, Government of India and a number of academic, philanthropic and corporate partnerships.

Mphasis is a global technology based company that has an active CSR division. Biotechnology Industry Assisstive Research Council (Birac) is a not-for-profit organisation set up by the department of Biotechnology, Government of India

The Quest will identify and select up to 10 innovations that enhance the learning, working and independent living for persons with disabilities. These winning innovations will also be provided up to Rs 20 lakh, each, to facilitate their market access journey and implementation of work orders.

The last date for submitting entries is August 15, 2019.

Mphasis’ Bhambhani adds: “Multiple estimates suggest that there are anywhere between four crore and eight crore disabled people in India—i.e. one in twelve households has a family member with a disability. Moreover, due to low literacy levels, social stigma and lack of opportunities, people with disabilities remain the most excluded and unidentified members of Indian society.

“Large number children with disabilities stay out of school, disabled adults are likely to be unemployed, and families with a disabled member tend to be economically weaker. While there are several players working to improve the situation, currently, there is no concerted industry effort.

“We have partnered with Social Alpha to support the curation, design and implementation of the Quest.”

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