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Unitus Ventures, Pfizer, PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health Partner to Accelerate Indian Health Technology Startups

Written by Capria Admin
February 2, 2015

Innovative INR 10 crore grants, investments and support program to help commercialize up to 5 early-stage startups improving the health of the masses in India

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2 February, 2015 – Hyderabad, India: At the BioAsia 2015 conference today, Unitus Ventures, Pfizer Inc., PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health announced the launch of StartHealth, an innovative program to provide up to INR 10 crore (US$1.6M) in grants and investments to very early-stage startups seeking to enhance access to affordable technology-driven healthcare products and services for the low-income masses in India. The program offers for-profit healthcare startups non-dilutive capital, hands-on support, access to expert advisors, medical facilities, and seed venture capital, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively complete development and scale their operations in India. The partners expect to selectup to 5 startups in 2015.

Capria - et logo Pfizer, Manipal Hospitals & others join hands to accelerate
health tech startups in India

Many Promising Healthcare Innovations Are Stuck in the Funding “Valley of Death”

All of the StartHealth partners have years of experience in working with early-stage entrepreneurs who have promising breakthrough healthcare businesses. A common problem stands out:  excellent entrepreneurs are too often stuck in underfunded pilots, have insufficiently-developed business models, face regulatory challenges for their healthcare technologies, and/or are missing key competencies on their teams. These challenges prevent them from tapping into venture capital in India, which they desperately need to advance. They are stuck in the funding “valley of death.”

“Over the past 2 years, we have met more than 150 healthcare entrepreneurs in India who had interesting innovations but who were not yet ready for seed venture capital,” said Dave Richards, Managing Partner, Unitus Ventures. “Rather than telling them to come back when they’ve progressed more, we can now engage, invest and support them immediately to get them on the road to commercialization success and scale.”

StartHealth Program Offers 2+ Years of Funding & Expert Support

With StartHealth, each emerging healthcare startup selected can take advantage of the funding, expertise and assets of the sponsoring parties, including the following:

  • Up to 50L (US$85K) of non-dilutive capital to fund immediate pre-seed business progress for 6 to 12 months.
  • Hands-on support from PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana’s staff, drawing from a pool of hundreds of healthcare and health industry experts.
  • Access to expert networks of Pfizer, PATH, Manipal Hospitals, Narayana and Unitus, in India and globally.
  • Access to facilities of Manipal Hospitals and Narayana for pilots and market testing.
  • Average 1 crore (US$165K) of seed venture capital and support from Unitus Ventures and its investing partners to prepare for growth and then to raise scale-up capital.

“We are excited to bring our healthcare experience to the impact investment community in India to address health inequities through new and innovative business models,” said Dipika Matthias, Director of PATH’s Global Health Innovation Hub initiative.  “We look forward to working closely with health technology-driven startups that are emerging as critical players in the effort to transform global health.”  With broad representation from various sectors, “BioAsia is the ideal platform for announcing the launch of this innovative program that aims to combine the business savvy of the start-up community with the global health access mission of governments and NGOs,” she added.

Taking Applications Now for Innovative Health-Tech Startups

Areas the StartHealth leaders are particularly excited about include:

  • Low-cost diagnostic and monitoring devices connected to the user’s and/or doctor’s smartphone to enable more timely diagnosis and treatment.
  • Affordable healthcare cloud IT solutions to overcome service constraints for consumers in low-resource healthcare settings.
  • Appropriate micro-device innovations for use in labs or clinical settings to improve the quality of care at lower levels of the healthcare system, such as primary care clinics.

These are just a few areas where companies are innovating. The fundamental elements of success for a StartHealth company include an excellent entrepreneur with strong med/tech credentials, a concept that can reach lakhs, if not tens of lakhs of consumers/patients within about 5 years, and an opportunity for a strong financial return as the innovation scales over time.

Learn more about the StartHealth program:

“We are pleased to support innovation in India and help to make new healthcare services affordable and accessible to low-income populations,” said Jazz Tobaccowalla, Managing Director, Pfizer India. “StartHealth is a unique approach combining grants, expert support and smart venture capital to accelerate promising health-tech entrepreneurs.”

“We like the approach the Unitus is taking to invest in healthcare entrepreneurs innovating for the masses in India,” said Dr. Ajay Bakshi, Managing Director and CEO, Manipal Hospitals. “We are committing our healthcare experts and resources to complement the contributions of our partners to help bring more innovations to market sooner.”

“Narayana Health is seen as one of the role models in its endeavor to make quality healthcare accessible to the masses and the use of latest technology to enable the same. We constantly adopt better technology that enables us to deliver quality healthcare services to a large low-income patient base making it affordable to them, said Mr Viren Shetty, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Planning, Narayana Health. “This partnership enables us to collaborate closely with entrepreneurs, investors and other healthcare specialists with a goal of accelerating access to technology driven healthcare services.”.

About Unitus Ventures

Unitus Ventures is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in healthcare, education, mobile commerce & value-added services, marketplaces & e-commerce, retail & distribution, agriculture, and water & energy sectors. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Ventures is based in Bangalore and Seattle. More about Unitus Ventures at

About Pfizer

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives.  We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products.  Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer health care products.  Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.  Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world.  For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.  To learn more, please visit us at

About PATH

PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children. Accelerating innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—PATH harnesses its entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, PATH takes innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. With these key partners, PATH delivers measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at

About Manipal Health Enterprises Pvt Ltd. (Manipal Hospitals)

Manipal Hospitals is a part of the Manipal Education & Medical Group, and is a leading healthcare provider delivering quality healthcare in India. As a pioneer in healthcare, Manipal Hospitals is among the largest hospital networks in India serving over 2 million patients annually. It manages an aggregate of 5,200+ beds among 16 hospitals, over 13 locations across 6 states in India and 1 hospital in Malaysia. Its network of hospitals covers all levels of delivery from primary to quaternary care. It has built a significant, committed clinical and healthcare skill pool of 2,000+ doctors and 6,000 nurses, paramedics and support staff. Its focus is to develop an affordable tertiary care multispecialty healthcare framework through its entire multispecialty delivery spectrum and further extend it to homecare. Dedicated to its core values of “Clinical Excellence, Patient Centricity and Ethical Practices”, Manipal Hospitals delivers the highest standards of healthcare to its patients, both from India and from overseas. Its flagship, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore is the first entity in India to be awarded accreditation by the AAHRPP for ethical standards in clinical research activities. Manipal Hospitals has been rated as the most respected hospital company in India. Visit

About Narayana Health

About Narayana Health, one among India’s largest healthcare service providers and also one of the world’s most economical, is set to emerge as a global industry model for its ability to reconcile quality, affordability, scale, transparency, credibility and profitability. With all super-specialty tertiary care facilities that the medical world offers, it is now a one-stop healthcare destination for all. From a humble beginning of a 225 bed hospital in 2001, Narayana Health group of hospitals has grown to become a 7500 beds healthcare conglomerate with 29 hospitals across 17 cities in India and a 104 bed hospital in the Caribbean at Grand Cayman, North America. Visit

About BioAsia

BioAsia is born with a vision to enhance, enrich and encourage newer innovations, path-breaking discoveries and effective solutions in the biotechnology industry by offering a vibrant global platform for convergence of the key stakeholders – Biotech & Biopharma Companies, research institutions, academia, investors, service providers, policy makers, regulators and analysts. BioAsia is focused in its efforts – to drive the growth of the industry by enabling an effective environment for fostering collaborations, JV’s M&A’s; ensure knowledge and experience sharing by global industry players to benefit all stakeholders; promote innovations and initiatives through appropriate awards and recognitions; play a pivotal role in advocating issues to the policy makers and chartering the road-map of bio-technology. BioAsia is a dynamic platform for companies -to exhibit, launch and showcase their unique strengths, products and services. BioAsia is playing the role of a key catalyst in mobilizing all elements that are required to drive the growth of the emerging industry of Biotechnology as well as optimize the immense business potential of biotech. On a larger level, BioAsia is working to drive a global transformation from the treatment of illness to wellness. More at

Learn more about the StartHealth program:


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