Jugaad-a-thon to accelerate medical technology innovation

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bengaluru: CAMTech INDIA, a new United States Agency for International Development (USAID/India) funded public-private partnership to accelerate medical technology innovation for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) in India, has announced its first medical technology hack-a-thon to be held here on July 18-20. This inaugural hack-a-thon (Jugaad-a-thon) is being organised in partnership with Glocal Healthcare and hosted by GE Healthcare India.

“The Jugaad-a-thon is a new way of elevating the experience and know-how of local experts, and using strategies from not just engineering, but also public health and business, to develop new tools to improve health,” said Elizabeth Bailey, Director of the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Centre for Global Health. “We’re focused on finding impactful, marketable, and innovative ways to provide care to women and children in India.”

CAMTech INDIA’s inaugural Jugaad-a-thon (derived from the Hindi word Jugaad meaning an innovative fix or work-around) will be a 48-hour event where 250 clinicians, engineers and entrepreneurs collaborate on disruptive, new solutions for unsolved clinical problems. Cross-disciplinary teams addressing specific clinical challenges will work late into the night to develop functional prototypes and explore new business models to commercialize their innovations. Teams present their innovations to a panel of judges at the end of the event, and will be awarded a variety of prizes to help take their innovations forward, according to a statement by CAMTech.

Applications for the July 18-20 Jugaad-a-thon can be submitted by July 7.

To date, over 1,000 innovators have participated in CAMTech hack-a-thons across India, Uganda and the United States, and they have spawned a wide range of new technologies addressing intractable problems such as newborn asphyxia, postpartum haemorrhage and cervical cancer, the statement said.

“As a healthcare provider to those most at risk for poor health and early death in India, hack-a-thons help us become a part of a unique community of innovators who share our vision of ensuring the best healthcare is available to all,” said Soura Bhattacharyya, Glocal’s Chief of Medtech. “We see this effort as central to improving the lives of the millions we serve.” As one of CAMTech INDIA’s lead partners, Glocal Healthcare will provide on the ground expertise and resources for the programme’s hack-a-thons and clinical summits.

The event will be hosted at GE’s John F Welch Technology Centre in Bengaluru, the company’s largest innovation centre. GE Healthcare is at work for a healthier India through disruptive innovations and has developed over 25 affordable and accessible technologies in India to address cancer, cardiac and maternal infant care.

“With rising rates of infant and maternal mortality in emerging and underserved healthcare markets, maternal and child health forms one of our core pillars,” said Vikram Damodaran, Director, Healthcare Innovation, India, GE Healthcare South Asia. “This collaboration with CAMTech INDIA is meant to draw upon GE’s strategic intent to create an open innovation platform to accelerate development of affordable care solutions for this critical need. The John F Welch Technology Centre provides the perfect setting with high-end infrastructure, domain experts and access to world-class intellectual talent to act as mentors during the event.”

The hack-a-thon will conclude with an awards ceremony where top innovations will receive a range of prizes, including monetary and in-kind prizes to help push prototypes through to a marketable product. Sponsors of such awards include AB InBev, Dayananda Sagar Institutions, FICCI and InnAccel. Teams will be judged by a panel of experts from public health, engineering and business.

The Jugaad-a-thon will be directly preceded by a Clinical Summit, which will convene clinicians, healthcare workers, government public health experts and patients from across India to identify the most pressing RMNCH needs and best practices in delivering care. The Summit will also include a Technology Showcase for early-stage and newly marketed medical technologies that aim to improve quality and access for RMNCH in India.

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