Zoho invests $5 mn in Voxelgrids
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Zoho Corp. is acquiring a 25% stake in Voxelgrids, a Bengaluru-based startup that builds magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.  It will invest $5mn, which will be made in two tranches over the next two years, is aimed at fostering development of deep technological capabilities and intellectual property (IP) in the country.

“Our mission is to invest in critical technology know-how in India. This fits very well with that mission,” Sridhar Vembu, cofounder and chief executive officer, Zoho, said at a select roundtable on Tuesday.

The investment comes at a time when close to 70% of the world's population has no access to MRI scanners, according to studies. Meanwhile in India, there are only 0.4 MRI scanners per thousand beds, with most of the access restricted to tier-1 cities.

Moreover, in spite of India being a favourable medical tourism destination, procurement of diagnostic imaging equipment is still an expensive affair for hospitals and clinics, the brunt of which is borne by patients. The Indian market is dominated by either imported machines or refurbished equipment.

Zoho aims to bridge this gap by helping in the development of indigenous MRI technology that provides a next-generation and cost-effective alternative that enables healthcare facilities to save on capital and operational expenditure.

"One of the pressing concerns for the Indian economy today is the lack of indigenous industrial know-how and manufacturing capabilities. A healthy deep tech ecosystem is vital to solving this issue and driving structural economic change. Voxelgrids is one of the few companies that is working to solve this problem with MRI machines entirely built in India,” said Vembu.  

“Deep tech products like ours require a significant amount of time from completing the R&D to taking the product to market, and most often, this is the time where we face insufficient funding. The investment from Zoho will help us bridge this gap and speed up our efforts to scale," said Arjun Arunachalam, CEO and founder, Voxelgrids.

Voxelgrids has developed multiple technologies related to MRI scanners based on custom cryogenics and innovative electronic design and is looking to monetize it through OEM partnerships with other vendors in the field. The scanner can also be mounted on custom mobile platforms and transported to remote locations where the product can be made operational within a few hours.

The operational costs such as electricity consumption is expected to be much lower than other scanners in its class. Voxelgrids also aims to have multiple full-fledged clinical sites before the end of this financial year.

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