The pandemic has shed light on the need for MedTech innovation in India, with more and more people needing the help of technology from diagnosis to treatment. While the sector has been growing, with the help of business incubation, the pace of this growth can increase.
Every entrepreneur needs a push; every idea needs a catalyst. In this incubatee case study, we interview Mr Arun Agrawal, the Founder of Janitri. This company is channeling innovation in maternal and child healthcare, and Dr Lavanya Kiran, a leading obstetrician, and gynecologist has mentored Janitri under the MSMF NH Villgro Bionest incubation program.
A recent study found that many districts in India are lagging in maternal and child healthcare to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). There is inequality in the Coverage Gap Index(CGI) of different districts in India, with Panchkula, Haryana’s being as high as 74.09%. The ‘coverage’ here means the number of people in the context of maternal and child health care getting a specific medical intervention when needed. Janitri’s solutions might be the need of the day to reach all parts of the country and improve the current state for infants and mothers-to-be.
Janitri is a company that uses innovation and technology to reinvent the field of maternal and child healthcare, focusing on labour monitoring and diagnostics. The company has two products that can work in integration and individually called Daksh and Keyar.
Products in Focus: Daksh & Keyar
In this case study, we will explore the problems, solutions, and challenges of the products named Daksh and Keyar, developed by Janitri. Daksh is an intelligent labour monitoring tool that offers an automated e-partograph, intelligent alarms and alerts, a live view of fetal heart rate and uterine contractions, and past patient data storage. Keyar is a Fetal Heart Rate, Maternal Heart Rate, and Uterine Contractions portable monitoring device that can work in sync with Daksh or as a standalone tool.
“There were no devices to monitor foetal and maternal heart rates and contractions. We wanted to make sure that what we develop was easy to use and affordable. Our products communicate with our mobile app for intelligent alerts, automated generation of WHO partograph and for remote monitoring,” says Arun while talking about the products offered by Janitri.
Dr Lavanya, who was involved in getting these products to the manufacturing stage, says, “The products, Daksh and Keyar allow one to keep a record, facilitating documentation too for future use. It is a team-friendly machine, where not just the doctors but everyone involved in maternal healthcare can use it. Not just in India and its remote areas, but in other developing countries too where midwives play a huge role, these products can be useful.”
“In the early stage, grants matter a lot. We got support from MSMF NH Villgro Bionest incubation program to get grants for our products,” Arun says and adds, “The grants helped us in the journey of product development and clinical validation. Medical devices are complex, and it has multiple iterations. This is why getting grants is an absolute must.”
But this was one of the biggest challenges for Janitri during the inception. There were multiple other challenges faced by the company too, which included:
1. Having no access to expertise in MedTech to create a robust product development journey.
2. No access to funding or grants to develop a cost-heavy MedTech solution that goes through multiple stages.
3. Being outside the hospital ecosystem, with no access to labs or clinicians to obtain clinical validation for its products.
When Janitri was incubated by Villgro and other business incubators like MSMF NH Villgro Bionest incubation program, many of their business problems were solved. While talking about it, Arun shares, “I was at a point where I was looking out for which problem to solve in maternal and child healthcare. From that stage to the go-to-market stage, I wouldn’t have come so far without incubation.”
Some of the solutions that could be made possible through incubation, according to Arun, include:
- Janitri gained access to a wide network of MedTech stakeholders. Talking about the exposure through incubation, Arun expresses, “The Bionest incubation started connecting me with the right stakeholders — whether it was in the hospitals, NGOs or other organizations. I travelled across India, understanding problems. I had more than 200 problem statements in front of me. Out of those 200, I identified one I wanted to solve and started developing that product in 2016.”
- There was mentoring at each stage. Whether it was the stage of product development, business development, regulatory compliances, etc., mentors were always accessible for Janitri to guide them on the journey. With a different mentor with expertise on each stage, Arun says that he would have found it difficult to do it without them.
- Gaining clinical validation. Janitri gained credibility in the MedTech space because of MSMF NH incubator support. The company was also referred to dignified MedTech stakeholders after business incubation that helped improve all the product-related work processes. This brought in clinical validation too.
- Getting grants. Janitri was awarded multiple grants that facilitated product development.
Through business incubation, Janitri’s products are now almost ready to go-to-market and are currently in the manufacturing stage. “Janitri has become a butterfly from a cocoon. At first, it was heavy and not ideal for women in labour pain, wearing it and walk around with it. The solution was meant to be ‘mobile,’ helping a mother-to-be reduce her perception of pain. When I discussed it with Mr Arun, he was amicable to the suggestions we gave, and once we brainstormed and the changes were done, the products are more accurate, user-friendly, delicate, and very sophisticated,” says Dr Lavanya.
Talking about the impact that Janitri has achieved so far due to Bionest incubation, Arun says, “30,000+ pregnancies have been monitored so far using our products. These are deployed in 140+ hospitals across India, and we are getting requests from countries in Africa for the same.”
Expressing gratitude towards the business incubators that have helped realize Janitri’s goals, Arun shares, “BioNEST helped us getting access to clinical research and validation. That data helped us develop a robust solution. We could showcase our ideas to the highly relevant people in the MedTech industry because of them.” He continues, “If we didn’t have MSMF NH Villgro Bionest incubator support, nothing would have been so systematic, and it wouldn’t have happened under one umbrella. We would have also spent a lot more than what we have now to develop a MedTech product.”