Unitus partners Pfizer, Manipal Hospitals, Narayana Health, & others to back health-tech startups

Bangalore-based impact investor Unitus Seed Fund (USF), along with hospitals like Narayana Health and Manipal Hospitals; pharmaceutical firm Pfizer; and international non-profit organisation PATH, has launched a healthcare accelerator in India. Called StartHealth, the accelerator will provide a corpus of up to Rs 10 crore ($1.6 million) in grants and investments to very early-stage healthcare startups focusing on low-income masses in India.

The programme offers for-profit healthcare startups non-dilutive capital of up to Rs 50 lakh in pre-seed round; hands-on support from all partners; access to expert advisors; as well as facilities of Manipal Hospitals and Narayan Health for pilot & market testing. It will also provide Rs 1 crore ($165,000) of seed venture capital and support from Unitus Seed Fund and its investing partners.

The accelerator expects to select about five startups this year. It is specifically focusing on areas like low-cost diagnostic and monitoring devices connected to the user’s and/or doctor’s smartphone to enable more timely diagnosis and treatment; affordable healthcare cloud IT solutions to overcome service constraints for consumers in low-resource healthcare settings; and micro-device innovations for use in labs or clinical settings to improve the quality of care at lower levels of the healthcare system, such as primary care clinics.

“Over the past two years, we have met more than 150 healthcare entrepreneurs in India who had interesting innovations but who were not yet ready for seed venture capital,” said Dave Richards, managing partner, Unitus Seed Fund. “Rather than telling them to come back when they have progressed more, we can now engage, invest and support them immediately to get them on the road to commercialisation success and scale,” he added.

This is the second healthcare focused accelerator to be launched in the country. Back in 2013, Delhi-based HealthStart Pte Ltd had launched a healthcare-focused incubator.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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