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CSR arm of SBI and Social Alpha launch a challenge to support assistive technology start-ups

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SBI Foundation and Social Alpha jointly announce the launch of the challenge, Techtonic: Innovations in Assistive Technology, inviting innovators and entrepreneurs working on products and services that address the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and enable them to lead an empowered life.
Challa Sreenivasulu Setty, Managing Director (Retail & Digital Banking), State Bank of India, said: “SBI Foundation is happy to collaborate with Social Alpha on this programme where the mission is to create an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. Through this initiative, we will ensure that Assistive Tech solutions are sustained and scaled up across India. It will encourage the next generation of innovators to engage in much-needed R&D of assistive technology.”
The challenge is structured to support early-stage assistive technology start-ups to accelerate their lab to market journey through comprehensive support that includes
– Access to Rs. 15 lakhs for ideating, prototyping, and growth
– Access to R&D labs for prototyping and infrastructure for scaled-up manufacturing
– Access to mentors, incubation facilities, industry players, and end-users for product testing and business model validation
India lacks a vibrant market for disruptive AT solutions. However, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and passionate innovators are trying to develop solutions for people with disabilities. But, in their journey, they are forced to encounter multiple valleys of death. The first valley of death appears at the idea/ prototype stage itself due to limited access to an end-user population that is highly fragmented, poorly funded R& D infrastructure, and a poor value chain. The programme designed by SBI Foundation and Social Alpha will help start-ups overcome this valley of death.
The challenge focuses on the following areas: Visual Impairment, Developmental Disorders & Chronic Neurological Conditions, Locomotor Disabilities, and Speech & Hearing Disabilities. The program will extend support towards 10 start-ups in accelerating their Lab to Market journey. Out of these 10, the top 4 start-ups will receive Rs. 15 lakhs along with incubation support for 1 year.
Speaking about the partnership and the challenge, Manoj Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, Social Alpha, said, “The gap between need and affordability of Assistive Technologies is huge, thus making it extremely difficult for persons with disabilities to access the latest innovations. SBI’s longstanding commitment to inclusion, combined with Social Alpha’s expertise in accelerating lab to market journeys of start-ups, will enable entrepreneurs to develop affordable and high-quality solutions to empower people with disabilities live a healthy, productive, and independent life.”

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