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Unitus Ventures Expands its India StartHealth Investment Program

Written by Capria Admin
September 15, 2015

Targeting investment of an additional 15 crore in early-stage health-technology companies in India; Ashwin Naik joins as healthcare advisor; UE LifeSciences raises INR 19.5 crore in Series A funding

15 September 2015, Bangalore: Unitus Ventures, the leading impact venture seed fund investing in startups innovating for the masses in India, announced today that it is doubling down on its StartHealth investing initiative targeting investments of INR 15 crore in 6 new early-stage health technology startups. With partners such as Pfizer, PATH, Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health, the StartHealth program provides flexible funding, expert support, and mentorship as well as access to healthcare facilities to accelerate the go-to-market path for promising startups. Unitus also announced that Dr. Ashwin Naik, founder of Vaatsalya hospitals, will be joining as a healthcare fund advisor to help support healthcare entrepreneurs invested in by Unitus. Separately, StartHealth participant UE LifeSciences announced earlier this week that it has raised a INR 19.5 crore Series A investment round led by Aarin Capital.


Closing India’s Healthcare Gap Requires Disruptive, Breakthrough Innovation

India’s 125 crore population is vastly diverse, and geography and affordability are major hurdles in access to medical care. India has a doctor: patient ratio of 1: 6300, 6x worse than the WHO-recommended minimum of 1: 1000. The Indian healthcare industry is in dire need of new appropriate products, services and delivery systems. The huge chasm between demand and supply in medical care represents a major public health crisis, but also presents a tremendous opportunity for healthcare entrepreneurs to step in and find innovative solutions. Technology has the power to harness India’s scarce medical resources most effectively to provide affordable and easily-accessible care to India’s masses.

“We are excited to be a part of the StartHealth initiative embracing the belief that disruptive technologies are the key to increased healthcare outreach,” said Dr. Vivek Ahuja, Director, PATH India. “PATH hopes to bring its extensive global health expertise to help accelerate the go-to-market efforts of entrepreneurs seeking to transform the healthcare sector in India and beyond.”

 StartHealth health-tech investment program will invest in 6 new startups

With additional funding support from Pfizer and Pfizer Foundation, Unitus Ventures is expanding its StartHealth health technology startup investing program in India. The StartHealth program is an initiative to identify, mentor, support and invest in healthcare technology ventures working on breakthrough solutions to serve the masses in India – the 20 crore families living on a household income base of under INR 25,000 per month. As these startups experiment with new technology, service delivery and business models, this program provides expert mentoring and support in their clinical studies, validation processes, and regulatory compliances. The StartHealth mentor network includes experts from Narayana Health hospitals, Manipal Hospitals and PATH who support the startups in their journey to launch their solutions in the market.

Additionally, the StartHealth program provides non-dilutive capital of up to INR 50 lahks to help startups complete the milestones necessary for a successful commercial launch. Upon the completion of these milestones, Unitus Ventures invests venture seed capital of up to INR 2 crore. With the expansion of the StartHealth program, Unitus will invest up to INR 15 crore in 6 new healthcare technology startups in India.

“We are expanding our StartHealth investment program in response to the growing number of promising health technology startups we are seeing in India,” said Dave Richards, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Unitus Ventures. “We are eager to get involved in supporting entrepreneurs at a very early stage as they finalize trials/testing and are preparing their go-to-market plans for the India market.”

New competition for health technology startups demonstrates growing innovation in India 

Earlier this month, Unitus announced StartHealth Competition 2, a global challenge to identify promising early-stage health-tech startups focused on improving healthcare for India’s 20 crore families living on under INR 25,000 per month. The winner will receive a cash prize of INR 10 lakhs and an opportunity to earn an additional INR 50 lakhs of non-dilutive capital as well as up to INR 2 crore in investment. Earlier this year, the first StartHealth Competition received more than 130 applications from health-tech startups demonstrating the breadth of innovation being led by entrepreneurs across India. Read about the StartHealth Competition 1 winners >

To date Unitus has announced two startups joining the StartHealth program:

  • iMMi Life, a cutting edge and innovative cardiac service company bridges the gap due to the lack of cardiologists in the country and promises to significantly cut down deaths due to heart attacks in the underserved geographies in India. Read more
  • UE LifeSciences, which has invented a patent-pending, low-cost, portable breast screening device which has potential to save the lives of 10’s of lakhs of women in India through early-stage detection of breast cancer which has invented a patent-pending, low-cost, portable breast screening device which has potential to save the lives of 10’s of lakhs of women in India through early-stage detection of breast cancer. Read more

Prominent healthcare entrepreneur joins as advisor to Unitus Ventures

Dr. Ashwin Naik has joined Unitus Ventures as a healthcare advisor to assist the investment firm in finding, evaluating, and supporting healthcare entrepreneurs innovating for the masses in India. Dr. Naik is the founder of Vaatsalya, a pioneering hospital chain in bringing quality healthcare to rural India. He brings his significant hands-on experience in establishing and scaling up healthcare service delivery with deep understanding of the integration amongst various sub-sectors and players in India healthcare. Dr. Naik will be also contributing his expertise to Unitus’ StartHealth investing initiative with focuses on engaging with India’s most innovative health-tech entrepreneurs seeking to bring their offerings to market.

“It’s an exciting time to be a healthcare entrepreneur in India. The opportunities are immense and there is potential to build deeply impactful businesses,” said Dr. Ashwin Naik, Founder, Vaatsalya. “Unitus Ventures with its focus on early stage impact focused investing is a pioneer in this space and I am honored to assist the team to expand their reach and impact. I hope to use my experience as an entrepreneur to support the growth of the healthcare startup ecosystem.”

StartHealth participant, UE LifeSciences, raises INR 19.5 crore Series A funding

UE LifeSciences, a current StartHealth program participant, announced earlier this week that it has raised INR 19.5 crore in Series A funding led by Aarin Capital with Unitus Ventures also participating. UE LifeSciences has invented a patent-pending, low-cost, portable breast examination device which has potential to save the lives of 10’s of lakhs of women in India through early-stage detection of breast cancer. The device is poised to transform healthcare delivery for the masses. Read more about UE LifeSciences’ fund raise >

About Unitus Ventures

Unitus Ventures is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in sectors including healthcare, education, mobile & consumer, retail & ecommerce, financial services & agriculture. 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 >


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