Hands that help are holier than lips that pray. The Incubation Centre IIT Patna is aiding and harbouring small entrepreneurs with a vision and ideas to come up with feasible solutions for common problems.
The electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry is touted to be the world’s fastest-growing industry, with India committing to raise production to $300 billion by 2025-26. A major chunk of this growth rests on the development and encouragement of new and emerging technologies introduced by startups and entrepreneurs.
To reach this target, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has set up incubation centres in different parts of the country to aid and encourage startup growth. One such incubator, nestled in the sprawling campus of IIT Patna, is the Incubation Centre IIT Patna, commonly known as IC IITP.
In 2014, MeitY approved a project to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the ESDM industry with a special focus on medical electronics at a total estimated cost of ₹471 million, including a grant-in-aid of ₹221 million from MeitY. The state government of Bihar has agreed to contribute ₹250 million to the project.
The incubation facility aims to incubate 50 startups over five years. The incubation centre offers seed funding of up to one million rupees for each project, along with mentorship, and helps the startups get connected with potential investors. The centre has processed more than 1,000 applications since its inception and has worked with more than 60 startups in medical electronics, healthcare, IoT, automation, robotics, waste management, industrial solutions, consumer electronics, and education.
Out of the many startups under its wing, Electronics For You got in touch with three innovative startups that have managed to set a benchmark in the ESDM sector with IIT Patna’s support.
India’s portable power
With the rising demand for lithium-ion batteries, the greener alternative to the conventional lead-acid battery, a new problem of thermal runaway arose. While countries and big manufacturers around the world are racing to come up with an effective solution to make an efficient battery management system, Portable Power Technology Pvt Ltd has come up with India’s first indigenously designed battery management system for lithium-ion batteries.
Founded by Abhijeet Kumar, the product that is available in different categories has been designed in such a way as to prevent thermal runaway, hence preventing any chance of a fire. The company’s custom-designed BMS on a PCB can be used for any electric two-wheeler, three-wheeler, or four-wheeler, or even a single solar cell or an entire solar panel.
The company has designed ten different BMS systems for different types of lithium-ion batteries, ranging from lithium iron phosphate to lithium cobalt oxide. The company takes pride in being able to customise its battery management system as per a customer’s voltage and current requirements.
The company has secured a patent for their innovation. Commenting on the achievement, Founder Abhijeet Kumar says, “For every BMS to function properly, we need to control the temperature, voltage, and current. In addition to that we need to optimise the losses in the current and voltage rating. That is where we are different. Our sleeping current is very less. In ideal conditions, our sleeping current is less than 6µA.”
Incubated at IIT Patna, the founding team got together in August 2018 to build a lithium-ion battery and BMS specifically for defence applications. Supported by DRDO and IIT Kanpur, who are among its customers, the company is set to commercialise the product from March 2023.
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed us to the lax healthcare system in our country. While our doctors and nurses broke their backs trying to save lives, many Covid warriors lost their lives after coming in contact with the disease due to a lack of proper protection kits.
Amid these happenings, a young couple with no technical background, but a will to save lives, started Kingshahi Innovations Pvt Ltd. Startup entrepreneurs, Barun Shahi and his wife Meenakshi Kumari, have come up with a full-body disinfectant machine to completely disinfect any human in hospitals.
As the name suggests, the machine automatically deploys a disinfectant solution in the form of micro-droplets of the size of 50µm when its electronics sensors detect the presence of an adult human being, weighing not more than 125kg. An air pressure system on top of the machine prevents the micro-droplets from going beyond the shoulder level, avoiding any ingestion of disinfectant fluid by the subject.
The machine can currently work for two kinds of disinfectant fluids—ethanol based (70%) and sodium hypochlorite. It has successfully been tested to neutralise any infected area within a second.
Tested and recommended for use in hospitals by India’s top medical bodies, including AIIMS, ICMR, and IMA, the full-body disinfectant machine was awarded the IMA National President Award in 2021. Shahi has filed for a patent for the machine, which is currently in the last stage of the grant.
The startup is engaging in a discussion with the state health department to deploy this machine in state healthcare facilities and hospitals. The company intends to commercialise the product after the patent grant is received.
A home for veggies
Necessity is surely the mother of invention, and that is what prompted Nikky Kumar Jha, an alumnus of Nalanda University in Bihar, to come up with the idea of a green storage system for vegetables and fruits for farmers and retailers.
After watching farmers and vegetable vendors in his village Naya Tola Dudhela in Bhagalpur, Bihar, waste a large quantity of their produce due to lack of adequate storage facilities and electricity, Jha started working on a storage system in 2019 to increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
Jha set up Saptkrishi Scientific Pvt Ltd and came up with a solar-powered storage device that requires a power supply of just 10 watts and one litre of water every day, whose production started in March 2021.
The device consists of a high-humid and sterile isolated chamber made of nano-surface reflective coating material. An ARM based embedded system device with a programmable logic controller allows the user to select different modes of operation for different vegetables and fruits. It oxidises ethylene emitted by the produce into small molecules, thus delaying browning and ripening, and regulates the activity of the antioxidant enzyme. This creates a controlled microclimate that preserves fruits and vegetables for anywhere between 3 to 30 days.
Started with an initial seed amount of `1.5 million, the startup has set up a manufacturing facility that now makes 100 units per month. Each unit can accommodate 200kg of produce and measures approximately 122cm×107cm×76cm (4 feet×3.5 feet×2.5 feet). Priced at `10,000 per unit, the startup is collaborating with different microfinance companies to assist its target customers, which include the local vegetable vendors and farmers, get the product on an EMI basis.
The company plans to collaborate with different state governments to help the farmers get the product at a subsidised rate. The company has sold more than 500 units in different parts of the country till now and has an order of 750 units in its pipeline.
Aiding innovators from all walks of life, incubation centres like IIT Patna aren’t just looking at degrees and backgrounds but assessing ideas and supporting them to develop products. What remains to be seen is how these products effectuate the purpose of their invention and become a part of our daily lives.
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