Medical equipment company:Chennai-headquartered software development major Zoho Corporation has invested $5 million (Rs 35 crore) in Voxelgrids, a Bengaluru-based medical devices startup that manufactures magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
“One of the pressing concerns for the Indian economy today is the lack of indigenous industrial know-how and manufacturing capabilities. A healthy deeptech ecosystem is vital to solving this issue and driving structural economic change.
Voxelgrids is one of the few companies that is working to solve this problem with MRI machines entirely built in India. We need more such companies that can own and command this type of engineering know-how across different sectors,” said Sridhar Vembu, chief executive officer and co-founder, Zoho Corp.
According to media reports, the investment will be made in two tranches and Zoho would own a nearly 25 per cent stake in the medical devices company. Voxelgrids manufactures 1.5T (Tesla) MRI scanners that are lightweight, mobile, and easy to install, operate and maintain even in remote locations such as small villages. The equipment also includes a proprietary software package for imaging purposes.
According to reports, close to 70 per cent of the world’s population has no access to MRI scanners. In India, there are only 0.4 MRI scanners per thousand beds, with most of the access restricted to tier-I cities. Moreover, in spite of India being a favoured medical tourism destination, procurement of diagnostic imaging equipment is still an expensive affair for hospitals and clinics, the brunt of which is borne by patients.
The Indian market is dominated by either imported machines or refurbished equipment. Voxelgrids’ indigenous MRI technology provides a next generation, cost-effective alternative that enables healthcare facilities to save on capital and operational expenditure, Zoho said in a statement.
“Deeptech products, like ours, require a significant amount of time from completing the research and development to taking the product to market, and most often, this is the time where we face insufficient funding. The investment from Zoho will help us bridge this gap and speed up our efforts to scale,” said Dr. Arjun Arunachalam, CEO and founder, Voxelgrids.
Voxelgrids has developed multiple technologies related to MRI scanners based on custom cryogenics and innovative electronic design and is looking to monetise it through OEM partnerships with other vendors in the field.
The scanner can also be mounted on custom mobile platforms and transported to remote locations where the product can be made operational within a few hours. The operational costs are also much lower than other scanners in its class. Voxelgrids also aims to have multiple full-fledged clinical sites before the end of FY22.