By Jishnu Ghose

BENGALURU: If you have a groundbreaking solution to improve the quality of life of the disabled, there is help around the corner to improvise, test and market that to deserving customers. Over the next five years, the Bengaluru-based Artilab Foundation is looking to incubate more than 45 companies who can build products and solutions for people with disabilities and also become commercially successful.

“There is a huge unmet opportunity in assistive technology and rehab solutions. If we build for India, we can build for the world,” Mohan Sundaram, founding CEO of Artilab Foundation, told ET. So far, Artilab has incubated four companies and is providing end-to-end support for ideation, product design, testing, manufacturing and building their business.

The 36-month programme is hoping to build solutions in areas such as accessibility, personal aids and appliances, public transportation, smart cities, education, health care, diagnostics, and the home and office space The latest is a startup which is building prosthetic legs using cane. Most prosthetic legs are made of plastic, polypropylene, titanium and iron. They are expensive and not easily accessible.

“The thought behind this came to the founder when he saw cane furniture being made and used. Cane can be bent easily and still hold a lot of weight. It is durable, and the fact that it is both hard and light drove the founder to develop prosthetic legs made of cane,” said Arun Subramanian, head of outreach at Artilab.

Artilab is also nurturing Turn Plus, a startup that has built an installable swivel seat mechanism which helps the disabled get in and out of a car. It is also mentoring a startup incubated in IIT-Bombay which helps visually impaired people through a device that can speak aloud in several languages, once they learn to text using Braille, Sundaram said.

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The Department of Science and Technology has approved Artilab as a technology incubator. This is expected to help firms get access to more funds. Artilab is also looking at companies to fund it as part of their corporate social responsibility targets, and plans to set up a Rs 27 crore corpus for incubatees. It also has a dedicated mentoring team to nurture these startups.



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