Marico Foundation rewards innovators making a difference in Covid fight

Topics Coronavirus | Marico | Lockdown

A medic conducts thermal screening of a passenger waiting to board a train to Delhi at Howrah station, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Kolkata. Photo: PTI
Stepping in to drive innovations that would combat the short supply of medical equipment in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic, Marico Innovation Foundation has awarded three key projects that it found to be not only innovative, but affordable and scalable.

The Innovate2BeatCOVID challenge received 1500 entries from across the country. The Foundation along with ATE Chandra Foundation and Harsh Mariwala, chairman Marico, have come together to offer total grants of Rs 2.5 crore.Out of this, about Rs 1.57 crore has been offered to selected protective personal equipment (PPE) solutions. One of the products is a breathable yet hydrophobic PPE kit (by CREA), another is a disinfectant chamber to clean surfaces of pathogens (by Log 9 Materials) and the third one is a rapid yet cost effective manufacturing machine for 3-ply masks (by Saral Design)

Speaking to Business Standard, Mariwala said that the key focus while choosing these projects was to see if they were affordable, of good quality and also scalable. He felt that while the pandemic may get over in some months, but these products have the potential to go beyond the Covid19 pandemic. "There would be a need for hygiene products in the long run. People will be far more tuned into hygiene and the demand and relevance of these innovations would be there," Mariwala said. The Foundation is also hand-holding these innovators to help them scale up, guide them about necessary clearances and approvals etc.

R Mashelkar, chairperson of the governing council of Marico Innovation Foundation said, "These products have wider applications. We can also export these products to the world. Everyone wants affordable quality. "

Coming on to these innovations - CREA Worldwide has been offered a grant of Rs 41 lakh. It is making breathable yet hydrophobic (water repelling) PPE kit. This would help the front line workers and medical professionals from dehydration from commonly used laminated PPE kits.  CREA is using non-laminated fabrics which makes their coveralls more breathable; can be used up to 12 hours even in summer heat. Priced similar to conventional PPE kits (non-breathable material), these kits also have twice the life. It can thus reduce the cost of PPE per person by a healthcare institution.

As the country prepares to come out of lockdown, CREA also offers a suite to protect our second line of defence (dentists, general practitioners, policemen, healthcare workers, etc.) comprising face shield, parka and coverall. These coveralls have been approved by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Log 9 Materials Scientific has been offered a grant of Rs 76 lakh. It is making something called the CoronaOven - an ultra violet disinfection chamber that can that can sanitize any surface of all pathogens in only 10 minutes; thus permitting hospitals to re-use masks, gloves and other PPE.  Each microwave-sized compact chamber (33-litre) can disinfect 40 masks per hour, thus holding the potential to not only largely reduce the current high pressure on PPE supply, but also massively cut down on PPE waste. In just a month since CoronaOven’s launch, Log 9 has already sold over 300 ovens, which can help users disinfect and re-use up to 30 lakh gloves every month.

Apart from hospitals disinfecting PPE, general shops, households and users across the value chain of most small-sized products such as milk packets, food packets, watches, spectacles, bags, can disinfect a range of items. The chamber is also finding  customised use cases in airports to disinfect high-contact surfaces such as trolleys, escalator handles, baggage belts, etc.

The third innovation, Saral Design Solutions has been offered a grant of Rs 40 lakh. Saral has innovated to adapt its patented sanitary pads producing machine to produce 3-ply surgical masks in a cost effective manner.  Saral can manufacture at a rapid rate of 80 masks every minute. Saral’s machine has already produced 10 lakh masks since the pandemic began. They are now looking to ramp up production through their decentralized manufacturing capabilities in 20 locations across Tier II & III cities in India.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel