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LVPEI Partners with AIOS to Host 2nd Incubator Start-up Challenge

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Hyderabad: The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) and All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) partnered to host the ‘2nd Incubator Start-up Challenge’, LVPEI’s flagship event to recognize the best start-ups globally for innovation in the field of eye care. Positioned under the BioNEST program of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Government of India, the LVPEI start-up incubator serves as the premier hospital-based incubator, providing a comprehensive platform for healthcare innovators to incubate ideas, develop prototypes, and achieve commercial milestones while leveraging the rich handholding ecosystem of the institution.

The two-day event started on March 1, 2024, with a boot camp at LVPEI BioNEST in Poonirma and Ramam Atmakuri Centre for Technology in Kismatpur. It concluded with the finale announcing the start-up challenge winners at LVPEI’s Kallam Anji Reddy campus, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. Distinguished guests at the finale included Mr Ajit Rangnekar, Interim Chief Innovation Officer at Telangana State Innovation Cell and Director General at Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH); and Mr Srinivas Rao Mahankali, CEO, T-Hub, and Dr Harbhansh Lal, President of All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS).

LVPEI’s Incubator Start-up Challenge 2024 Timeline

In October 2023, LVPEI launched its ‘2nd Incubator Start-up Challenge’, inviting entries from eye care start-ups worldwide.

After a rigorous evaluation, ten start-ups showcasing innovations in medical devices, diagnostics, drugs, and therapeutics were chosen from a competitive pool of applicants.

Parallelly, the ‘AIOS EyeInvent Hackathon’ yielded another ten competent ophthalmologists with innovative eye care solutions.

The shortlisted applicants from both the events, the LVPEI’s Incubator Start-up Challenge & AIOS EyeInvent Hackathon, participated in an intensive boot camp on March 1, 2024, where they received mentorship to refine their business plans and commercialization strategies from industry experts.

Start-ups then presented revised pitches to the jury, where they demonstrated their technology and products.

Subsequently, the top three winners for both, the ‘LVPEI Incubator Start-up Challenge’ and ‘AIOS EyeInvent Hackathon’ were chosen based on:

a)    Innovation quotient

b)    Social and clinical impact

c)    Merit of their business plan

The winners of the 2nd Incubator Start-up Challenge are:

–          Winner: Sunbots Innovations LLP. They will receive INR 5 lakhs and 12 months of free incubation at LVPEI.

–          1st runner up: Innovease India Private Limited. They will receive INR 3 lakhs and 6 months of free incubation at LVPEI.

–          2nd runner up: JohnDa’s Pocket Foldable FunDaScope. They will receive INR 2 lakhs and 6 months of free incubation at LVPEI.

–          Jury Special mention: Pattu Thadam

The finale also announced the top 3 winners of the ‘AIOS EyeInvent Hackathon’:

–          Winner: Dr Shivraj Tagare

–          1st runner-up: Dr Shivam Gupta

–          2nd runner-up: Dr Namrata Kabra

–          Jury special mention: Dr Sushmita G Shah

These winners will get an opportunity to present their ideas at the All-India Ophthalmological Society meeting in Kolkata. As part of its commitment to supporting innovation, AIOS will provide support to help these start-ups advance to the next level.

Mr Ajit Rangnekar said, there are very few institutions like LV Prasad Eye Institute, it is very rare to find outstanding clinicians standing back from their work and thinking of what more needs to be done, working and collaborating with others to find solutions and implement it themselves. What we are increasingly seeing is enormous opportunity, thanks to AI ML and whole lot of digital technologies in applications for human good. We need to identify the right problem to solve, which the clinicians and practitioners can do. The second important thing is data, there are very few institutions in India from where you can get good clinical data. The data captured can help in solving much bigger, both public health and technology problems.   

Dr Prashant Garg, Executive Chair, LVPEI, thanked sponsor ‘Alcon’ and the other network partners and said, “Our incubation program synergizes with LVPEI’s extensive involvement in translational research. Uniquely situated within a hospital setting, our incubator provides ventures with an exclusive opportunity to integrate into our thriving ecosystem, expediting their progress toward achieving significant milestones.”

Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder, L V Prasad Eye Institute; said, India has seen a sea change in the eye care technology over the past few decades and we are very fortunate to have lot of indigenous manufacturing of both equipment and consumables, the beneficial effect of this is affordable care, probably the least expensive eyecare anywhere in the world. We also boast as the only country where eyecare is available and affordable. Only thing that needs to be addressed seriously, is accessibility, here technology can enable solutions. Another aspect is to enhance quality, indigenous innovation can help us either by developing completely original solutions or by way of technology transfers. More than 14 years ago we started having hackathons, we did a series of hackathons, later set up a technology innovation centre, which helped to develop many small and big tools and is continuing.

“This year, we could double our impact on enhancing start-up visibility and growing networking opportunities by collaborating with the All-India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS). The top three winners of the LVPEI Start-up Challenge are not only receiving cash prizes and free incubation at our incubation facility but also mentorship from LVPEI’s senior faculty members. Similarly, the top three winners of the AIOS EyeInvent Hackathon at LVPEI will secure the support of AIOS & the opportunity to present their innovation at the next AIOS Annual Summit,” added Dr Ramesh Kekunnaya, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Head of the Incubator at LVPEI.

The LVPEI Incubator aims to establish itself as a national hub for innovators dedicated to advancing ophthalmology, fostering collaboration and supporting the eye care start-up ecosystem in the country.

About LVPEI Incubator: Funded by the esteemed BioNEST program of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under the Government of India, the LVPEI Incubator is a pioneering institution, serving as the country’s premier hospital-based incubator and a comprehensive partner for healthcare innovators. The LVPEI Incubator housed at the institute’s Kismatpur campus in Hyderabad embodies LVPEI’s mission of delivering healthcare from “Bench to Bedside”. Catering to a spectrum of medical domains, including devices, diagnostics, digital technologies, and biopharmaceuticals, the incubator facilitates idea incubation, prototype translation, and progression through commercial milestones. Leveraging LVPEI’s vast clinical and research expertise, innovators benefit from collaborative opportunities and knowledge exchange. Distinguished by its comprehensive infrastructure for industrial design, prototyping, clinical validation, and industrial-grade fabrication, the LVPEI Incubator positions itself as a beacon of innovation in the eyecare landscape.

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