Menterra Venture Advisors, an impact investment fund that invests in early-stage social startups has announced a new round of investment in Biosense Technologies alongside its investment partner Artha Venture Challenge, impact investment initiative of the Singh Family Foundation. With the new round, Menterra and Artha have provided more than US$1m of direct equity funding and unlocked soft debt funding of more than US$2m through its network. The Mumbai-based start-up provides quality, affordable and connected point-of-care diagnostics solutions for chronic diseases in India.

Thane, Maharashtra-based Biosense was started by a team of doctors and biomedical engineers, founded the company upon noticing the gaps in the provision of preventive care for chronic diseases, especially in non-metro cities and small towns of India. Initially, they started developing affordable medical devices that helped diagnose chronic problems from anaemia to diabetes and urine check. Today, they have six products and plan to scale up, in terms of R&D and distribution to other parts of the country.

Founded in 2008 by Abhishek Sen, Mukesh Sharma and Dr. Yogesh Patil, Biosense Technologies operates in the confluence of health, technology and people. It delivers high quality, chronic healthcare solutions, through -- “ABCD “ -- Affordable Basic Connected Diagnostics. All its products are focused on improving access to healthcare for masses through better use of technology. Through extensive use of cloud connectivity and geo-tagging Biosense generates data. Through this date and structured partnerships with leading healthcare companies as well as government agencies, Biosense enables targeted and efficient health interventions.

The funding from Menterra will help the startup optimize its supply chain, and to develop an end-to-end chronic disease solution platform for patients, in partnership with key partners in the healthcare ecosystem.

Commenting on the investment, Mukesh Sharma, Head Menterra Venture Advisors says, “We have been associated with the team for over seven years now. First through incubation-fund platform at Villgro, and then with investment and intense post-investment support beyond risk capital. The teams’ bold vision to solve the critical chronic healthcare challenge for our country at scale, never wavered through years of testing and learning. Few people know that they are one of the few ‘Make in India’ companies creating indigenous smart glucose meters and strips for diabetes testing. We are immensely happy to partner with them on their growth journey.”

There has been a curious shift in disease patterns in India from 1990 to 2016. According to the ‘Health of Nation States’ report, causes of death were fairly uniform in 1990 but are far more varied now. There is a need for different health interventions in the present day and time.

Abhishek Sen, co-founder of Biosense, puts the data in perspective, “We look at the disease shift as 3 waves in our country. Wave 1, with communicable diseases like diarrhoea have lessened but even today, when we work in rural districts, we see its deadly impact. On the other hand, with Wave 2, non-communicable diseases like diabetes are emerging as new killers. Wave 3, with mental health disorders such as mental stress, social isolation and depression etc. Many of these conditions are preventable.

The twin burden of diabetes and anaemia has become our crusade. Today, we are not just device manufacturers. We are chronic disease management solution providers.”

Biosense has conducted over more than 4m tests for chronic diseases in 2017 alone, across India. Through their ground-level work, they have been able to collect detailed data on disease patterns. Data that can target more public health interventions real-time instead of relying on information that, like many medicines, is past the expiry date for use.

Abhishek Sen added that “It has been great to partner with Menterra. They act as a long-term partner for entrepreneurs. This longevity and commitment helps entrepreneurs build the start-up from an idea to market and followed by further support to scale up. We couldn’t have asked for more committed partner to take our mission forward.”

Menterra Venture Advisors manages an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in for-profit enterprises driving impact at scale in Agriculture, Healthcare and Education sectors. Alongside its incubation partner, Villgro, Menterra has built a holistic impact incubation-fund platform that has been at the forefront of evolving impact space in India over last 18 years. Through extensive experience in idea - scale journey of a company Menterra believes that just providing risk capital is not enough. To deliver impact at scale it has built a diverse team backed by stellar network of advisors. Menterra’s deep sector focus is well aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and development priorities of the country and the government.

Recent Activities in India's Medical Device Startups

India's medical devices industry is growing at about 15 per cent annually and is expected to reach at least $25-30 billion (Rs 1.65-1.98 lakh crore) by 2025, according to a report in March by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India.

Last week, Delhi-based BeatO, a diabetes management startup that also makes Glucometer, has raised an institutional round of $1.3 million led by Leo Capital and co-led by Blume ventures.

In January, Sridhar Vembu, founder of Zoho, has announced that he has invested about $10 million in vTitan, a medical device startup based out of Chennai.

To recall, Bangalore-based PathShodh has made a device that can perform 8 health tests on single platform and for this the startup has been shortlisted by National Health Systems Resources Centre (NHSRC) as a very important and useful device.

An another Bangalore based medical device startup called Museinc has built a ‘Smart Stethoscope’ to make Stethoscopes a common household device. Ten3T is also one such medical wearable device startup trying to help patients with real-time cardiac monitoring.

An another medical device startup called Cooey technologies is also a promising startup that made news when, in 2016, it launched India’s first IOT glucometer that wirelessly syncs data with a smartphone.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited startups to focus on research for innovative medical devices and use technology to make healthcare more affordable.

“India should manufacture its own medical devices to bring down the cost. Recently, the government reduced cost of stents by 85 per cent," said Modi while addressing oncologists at Tata Memorial Hospital.

To recall, in March 2017, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has moved a cabinet note and suggestion that the maximum age for classifying a biotechnology or a medical devices firm as a startup be raised to 8-10 years from the current 5 years [Read Here].

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