Unitus Seed Fund, the leading impact venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India, announced today that it is doubling down on its StartHealth investing initiative targeting investments of INR 15 crore in 6 new early-stage health technology startups. With partners such as Pfizer, PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health, the StartHealth program provides flexible funding, expert support, and mentorship as well as access to healthcare facilities to accelerate the go-to-market path for promising startups.
Unitus also announced that Dr. Ashwin Naik, founder of Vaatsalya hospitals, will be joining as a healthcare fund advisor to help support healthcare entrepreneurs invested in by Unitus. Separately, StartHealth participant UE LifeSciences announced earlier this week that it has raised a INR 19.5 crore Series A investment round led by Aarin Capital.
Closing India’s Healthcare Gap Requires Disruptive, Breakthrough Innovation
India’s 125 crore population is vastly diverse, and geography and affordability are major hurdles in access to medical care. India has a doctor: patient ratio of 1: 6300, 6x worse than the WHO-recommended minimum of 1: 1000. The Indian healthcare industry is in dire need of new appropriate products, services and delivery systems. The huge chasm between demand and supply in medical care represents a major public health crisis, but also presents a tremendous opportunity for healthcare entrepreneurs to step in and find innovative solutions. Technology has the power to harness India’s scarce medical resources most effectively to provide affordable and easily-accessible care to India’s masses.
“We are excited to be a part of the StartHealth initiative embracing the belief that disruptive technologies are the key to increased healthcare outreach,” said Dr. Vivek Ahuja, Director, PATH India. “PATH hopes to bring its extensive global health expertise to help accelerate the go-to-market efforts of entrepreneurs seeking to transform the healthcare sector in India and beyond.”
StartHealth health-tech investment program will invest in 6 new startups
With additional funding support from Pfizer and Pfizer Foundation, Unitus Seed Fund is expanding its StartHealth health technology startup investing program in India. The StartHealth program is an initiative to identify, mentor, support and invest in healthcare technology ventures working on breakthrough solutions to serve the masses in India – the 20 crore families living on a household income base of under INR 25,000 per month. As these startups experiment with new technology, service delivery and business models, this program provides expert mentoring and support in their clinical studies, validation processes, and regulatory compliances. The StartHealth mentor network includes experts from Narayana Health hospitals, Manipal Hospitals and PATH who support the startups in their journey to launch their solutions in the market.
Additionally, the StartHealth program provides non-dilutive capital of up to INR 50 lahks to help startups complete the milestones necessary for a successful commercial launch. Upon the completion of these milestones, Unitus Seed Fund invests venture seed capital of up to INR 2 crore. With the expansion of the StartHealth program, Unitus will invest up to INR 15 crore in 6 new healthcare technology startups in India.
New competition for health technology startups demonstrates growing innovation in India
Earlier this month, Unitus announced StartHealth Competition 2, a global challenge to identify promising early-stage health-tech startups focused on improving healthcare for India’s 20 crore families living on under INR 25,000 per month. The winner will receive a cash prize of INR 10 lakhs and an opportunity to earn an additional INR 50 lakhs of non-dilutive capital as well as up to INR 2 crore in investment. Earlier this year, the first StartHealth Competition received more than 130 applications from health-tech startups demonstrating the breadth of innovation being led by entrepreneurs across India.
To date Unitus has announced two startups joining the StartHealth program:
Prominent healthcare entrepreneur joins as advisor to Unitus Seed Fund
Dr. Ashwin Naik has joined Unitus Seed Fund as a healthcare advisor to assist the investment firm in finding, evaluating, and supporting healthcare entrepreneurs innovating for the masses in India. Dr. Naik is the founder of Vaatsalya, a pioneering hospital chain in bringing quality healthcare to rural India. He brings his significant hands-on experience in establishing and scaling up healthcare service delivery with deep understanding of the integration amongst various sub-sectors and players in India healthcare. Dr. Naik will be also contributing his expertise to Unitus’ StartHealth investing initiative with focuses on engaging with India’s most innovative health-tech entrepreneurs seeking to bring their offerings to market.
“It’s an exciting time to be a healthcare entrepreneur in India. The opportunities are immense and there is potential to build deeply impactful businesses,” said Dr. Ashwin Naik, Founder, Vaatsalya. “Unitus Seed Fund with its focus on early stage impact focused investing is a pioneer in this space and I am honored to assist the team to expand their reach and impact. I hope to use my experience as an entrepreneur to support the growth of the healthcare startup ecosystem.”
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