Canada Funds Eleven New Global Health Innovations In India

Toronto: Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, has announced an investment of up to $3.1 million CAD in 11 innovations in India, designed to save and improve the lives of women and children.

Ten proof-of-concept projects will receive $112,000 CAD each and one Bangalore-based project, proven successful in trials, is now deemed ready for a $2 million CAD scale-up. It enables a mobile phone to work as a glucose metre for diabetics.

The funding was announced by the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, during the Grand Challenges Canada India Health Innovation Summit in Toronto, hosted by Grand Challenges Canada and the National Council of Indo Canadians.

More than 125 guests from over 27 Indo-Canadian organizations, including Akhilesh Mishra, Consul General of India and Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, attended the Summit on Monday, December 15th in Toronto, celebrating and showcasing global health innovators from India and Canadian innovators from Indian descent who are working to improve the health of the most vulnerable in India.

This event and the funding announcement builds on the Programme of Cooperation that was signed in February 2014 between Grand Challenges Canada and the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, in order to promote the development of long-term cooperation between Canada and India in the fields of global health, early child development, women and children’s health and mental health.

“Canada has welcomed generations of newcomers from India who have helped build a pluralistic and prosperous Canada. Both Canada and India share a mutual regard for innovation, and the valuable benefits it brings to our lives and our communities. By working together, we can leverage the expertise of our countries, through innovation and technology, for best practices to improve the health of our citizens,” said the Honourable Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister.

To date, Grand Challenges Canada has funded 80 innovations in India, for a total investment of more than $16 million CAD. These projects are being implemented by institutions based in India and by institutions based in Canada or other countries, in partnership with Indian institutions. Many of these innovations are improving maternal, newborn and child health, which is Canada’s flagship development priority.

Bangalore, India, secured a $2 million CAD investment commitment for the development of the Aina device, a mobile blood monitoring device that plugs into a smartphone and enables the testing of six basic blood parameters. This innovation can be easily used in home, clinical or remote settings, and allows for transmission of medical data directly from patients to health professionals.

Grand Challenges Canada’s $1 million CAD commitment comes from funds available under a $10 million CAD strategic partnership between Grand Challenges Canada and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). These funds aim to accelerate the scale-up of highly promising health innovations in developing countries. The $1 million CAD commitment by Grand Challenges Canada in Jana Care will be matched by a syndicate of investors, including Unitus Impact. Unitus Impact is a venture capital firm investing in scalable businesses that increase incomes and improve the livelihoods of the working poor in Asia’s fastest growing economies. Unitus Impact will invest through its recently launched Livelihood Impact Fund, which had its first close in July 2014 with investments from prominent family offices, foundations and high net worth individuals in Australia, Europe, Indonesia, Singapore and the United States.

“Canada is pleased to support the Aina device, a health innovation that promises to improve the quality of health of individuals in India suffering from diabetes,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. “Through innovation we have the potential to transform the health and lives of people in developing countries. This is what our Government’s partnership with Grand Challenges Canada is all about.”

Geoff Woolley, Unitus Impact CEO, said, “We are very excited to partner with Grand Challenges Canada to support Jana Care in its mission to improve the quality of diabetes care in India and other developing countries. The company’s innovative technology, combined with its lifestyle coaching curriculum, has the potential to improve the livelihoods of millions of patients. The focus of our Livelihood Impact Fund is to partner with high-quality entrepreneurs who are tackling critical societal issues, and we are proud to support Sidhant Jena and his team.”

Under Grand Challenges Canada’s Stars in Global Health program, a total of ten innovators were awarded seed grants of $112,000 CAD each: two Canadian innovators (Hamilton, Toronto) and eight innovators based in India. The projects include a neonatal wrist band that monitors an infant’s temperature and alerts the mother to warm her child, and a tele-controlled ophthalmology slit lamp that makes eye exams for patients in remote locations a reality.

Said Akhilesh Mishra, Consul General of India, “I would like to compliment and applaud Grand Challenges Canada for the initiative to strengthen cooperation between India and Canada in finding sustainable, long-term solutions in global health through integrated science, technology, social and business innovation to improve lives of people at the grass-roots level.”

Said Sudhir Handa, Chair, National Council of Indo Canadians, “Canada and India have long-standing relations, built upon strong interpersonal connections with an Indian diaspora of more than one million in Canada. These existing and new innovations are a testimony to the fact that attracting the best and the brightest talent from India and Indo-Canadians can make a big impact.”

“We thank the Government of Canada for its commitment to innovative projects that address health and development challenges in India, thus helping to save and improve the lives of so many, including, newborns, women and children,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada.

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