A comfortable wearable assistive technology device for the deaf, a device for pressure injuries and bedsores, a biofluid based diagnostics tool to effectively manage central nervous system diseases and other neurodegenerative conditions, and an AI-powered mobile app that empowers the blind, were the four winning solutions at the recently concluded Techtonic: Innovation in Assistive Technology. Jointly conducted by Social Alpha and the SBI Foundation, the challenge invited innovators and entrepreneurs working on products and services that address the difficulties faced by people with disabilities (PwDs) and enable them to lead an empowered life.
The challenge received an overwhelming participation from startups across India. The participants were evaluated based on technological innovation, social impact, and business roadmap among other parameters. The program focused on the following areas: Visual Impairment, Developmental Disorders and Chronic Neurological Conditions, Locomotor Disabilities, and Speech & Hearing Disabilities.
The four winners were chosen from 21 finalists. The winners, Tinkertech, Cureous Labs, Urvogelbio, and Quarkbitz, are eligible for a grant support of INR 15 lakhs, and a year-long Incubation support from Social Alpha. The top 10 finalists, including the winners, are eligible for a Certificate Program in Assistive Technology Solutions by National Institute for Speech and Hearing (NISH).
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kshama Kothari, Director of Health and Wellness, Social Alpha, said: “We, at Social Alpha, recognise the need to promote and support R&D in Assistive Technology that can play a pivotal role in reducing social gaps and improve the quality of life of PwDs. I thank SBI Foundation for its enduring commitment to creating an inclusive development paradigm and its support to the Techtonic initiative. Social Alpha will strive to create an enabling ecosystem for AT products and services and catalyse their lab-to-market journey.”
Smt. Manjula Kalyanasundaram, Managing Director – SBI Foundation, said, “SBI Foundation remains committed to using technology for development, making it accessible to everyone in our society. According to estimates, 1 in every 12 households in India has a family member with a disability. However, due to low literacy levels, social stigma, and lack of opportunities, PwDs remain the most excluded members of the society. Through our flagship program Centre of Excellence for Persons with Disabilities and partners, we aim to scout and nurture assistive technologies that foster inclusivity, remove barriers for PwDs in everyday life and promote holistic development and growth.”
According to estimates, India accounts for 40 to 80 million PwDs — i.e., 1 in 12 households has a family member with a disability. However, due to low literacy levels, social stigma, and lack of opportunities, PwDs remain the most excluded members of society. A large number of children with disabilities stay out of school, disabled adults are unlikely to be employed, families with a disabled member tend to be economically weaker, and the ageing population puts a lot of financial stress at both the household and national level. Techtonic: Innovation in Assistive Technology is aimed at scouting and nurturing assistive technologies that foster inclusivity and remove barriers for PwDs in everyday life.