Chennai-headquartered global technology company Zoho Corp. has invested USD 5 million (₹35 Crores) in Voxelgrids, an Indian startup that builds Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, in order to foster the development of deep technological capabilities and intellectual property (IP) in the country. Voxelgrids manufactures 1.5T 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.
Studies estimate that close to 70% of the world's population has no access to MRI scanners. Meanwhile 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 favourable 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.
"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, CEO and co-founder, Zoho Corp. “At Zoho, through relentless R&D over the past 25 years, we understand that the DeepTech ecosystem needs to be similarly endorsed by patient, long-term investments. We hope that Voxelgrids' success brings in more support for DeepTech products made in India.”
"Voxelgrids is doing research and development to generate significant IP in the MRI space with the objective of translating it into impactful applications that can make a difference in people's lives. We have made notable strides in this area, and are grateful for Zoho's support. DeepTech products, like ours, require a significant amount of time from completing the R&D 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 monetize 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 such as electricity consumption is also much lower than other scanners in its class. Voxelgrids also aims to have multiple full-fledged clinical sites before the end of the 2021-22 financial year.