2021-09-17
The story of Jeevtronics: Human-centric cardiac innovation  

The story of Jeevtronics: Human-centric cardiac innovation  

Jeevtronics— a Pune-based startup has developed India’s and probably the world’s first dual powered hospital-grade defibrillator. Defibrillators are mandatory in all nursing homes and is a critical instrument in ICUs and ambulances. In India, these devices are majorly imported, and many small nursing homes use refurbished devices to meet the regulation requirements, however, there is a possibility of device malfunctioning due to various reasons.

Emerging Tech Radio host Netra Walawalkar spoke with Aniruddha Atre and Ashish Gawade, cofounder of Jeevtronics. Both Ashish and Aniruddha have experience of working with Global automobile company Ford in North America and they have been passionate about developing triple-bottom-line business that positively impact on environment and people at the bottom of the pyramid. With 21+ years of total industry experience working in the US and India, they bring a wealth of experience across product development, manufacturing, process management, strategy, and planning.

 Please listen in from Ashish and Aniruddha about their journey: https://bit.ly/3iiyVpi   

Interview Transcript: 

A: At Jeevtronics we have developed the world's first dual power defibrillator. A defibrillator is a device used to save a sudden cardiac arrest victim if the shock is delivered within 10-minutes of cardiac, attack. Therefore the window of opportunity to save someone's life is really small and hence it is very important to have this device available locally in ambulance, rural clinics, primary health care centers, and other places but how the challenge is: how do we make this device work in areas which have no electricity or intermittent electricity? So, what we have done is we have built a hand-cranked generator inside the device, just like you have a windmill, we can call it a hand-mill. You can rotate it real fast and you can save a life by delivering a shock within 10 sec or so.

We have around four patents around this technology and its designed to all the international standards. We have already passed the pre-compliance test for EU-C marking and in our testing, we have fired 16,000 shocks as a part of the durability testing and the device did not fail at that. Just to put this in perspective, a regular defibrillator that complies with ISE 6061-2-4 standards should fire 2,500 shocks but we have fired four times than the required international engineering standards demands.

Therefore, it is indeed world-class in quality, costs one-fourth to one-fifteenth of the big brand has a very long life, and never needs a battery. When everything else in the world has failed --such as your grid and your diesel generator Jeevtronics defibrillator will still work.

Q: The defibrillator is capable of functioning without electricity or battery and makes a strong case for rural India and remote places and ambulances. Do you also give training required to use the device?

A: There are two types are defibrillators. One is internal, which you put inside the body after surgery and there is an external which is in ambulances or hospital. This is external, within that we have the automatic and hospital-grade, ambulance-grade defibrillator. And, this is to be used by trained personnel only -- they being doctors, nurses and EMD technicians and indeed they have training but in addition, we also train people in the use of our specific device when we go to install the device, in that they are also familiar and confident whenever they have to use the device.

Q: What has been your experience with rural installation?

A: In so far we have an installation in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan. There are tier-II, tier-III towns, small hospitals where it has been used and we have reports from three hospitals so far that they delivered a shock using our defibrillator and saved cardiac arrest patients.

Q: Can you share about your current team and its business operations

A: We are a 10 people team as of today, and we have inhouse R&D team and manufacturing function where are the parts are fully designed and manufactured by Jeevtronics. We are also manufacturing the final product, we think like a car company in this regard, where the tire is not made by the car company but sourced from a vendor as per its specifications. Similarly, we do not have machines that manufacture individuals components to save on high capital investment but we source all the parts and components and put them together. We source from ISO-qualified sources built to our standards of quality and also to international std of ICE-6061 standards for the defibrillator. We source, we put together final device in assembly, testing, quality control, and then packaging. 

Q: Being from an engineering background, working in the auto industry in the U.S. What really led you two to develop a healthcare device? What is the story behind startup?

A: We are sadhak (followers) of Manushakti Research Center, Lonavla and the founders of the center used to say that apart from what you do for livelihood you need to do at least one hour of Seva (self-less activity) per day. We used to wonder how to do it full time without becoming ascetic so when were studying at the University of Michigan Ann Arbour in the United States, we took a class with professor C.K.Pralhad. He talked about stories wherein someone innovated for the people at the bottom of the pyramid and had a humanitarian impact on a large scale, these were the kind of stories that inspired us and so we came back to India and we developed several products. One was a human-powered generator for lighting then we also did solar lamps, and after that, there came an idea about powering defibrillator in rural India and rural Africa. So, when we looked at the idea we thought, this is something that is dear to our heart and it is in line with our philosophy so we’ll take up as a challenge. We worked on it and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Department of Electronics, and Indo-US Science and Technology Fund Forum -- the bi-national fund supported by the GoI and Government of United States they both supported us in this initiative and at the end of this journey we had a defibrillator that is designed to world-class standards, costs little, never needs a battery replacement and can save a life. It has already begun saving lives here and there.

Q: Has it been challenging for you to change the track from engineering to the healthcare industry?

A: As in the case of any new product development it could be from any industry it is always a challenge but an innovator always likes to take challenges. We have previous experience of working in the automotive sector and developing a product at scale so a lot of our previous expertise in integration and product development came in very handy in this product development and our journey so far. Along with that, we put together a team that was capable in their areas, so it's a team effort so a lot of skill sets that have come together eventually to reach this stage.

Q: How many of these devices have reached the market so far?

A: As of today 65 devices are on the field across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Q: With the current COVID-19 situation, how’s the demand? Has demand gone up significantly for defibrillators right now?

A: The demand is infinite right now. We keep hearing about ventilators. Similar to ventilator, defibrillator is also required in every ICU hospitals, the demand is huge the challenge is on the supply-side because of the lockdown as some parts are difficult to procure so the supply chain currently is difficult to manage.

Q: How are you managing manufacturing at this time?

A: It has been challenging in terms of the mobility of people and goods. We are based in a part of the Pune city which has been under lockdown so employees cannot move about from one containment zone to another. We have sought permission from authorities so we can continue work. As medical device manufacturing, we are essential service providers, so we are exempt from the order however the challenge remains on the supply-side.

Q: Do you also see opportunities come up in these difficult times?

A: Yes, because of COVID-19 there has been an increased awareness about healthcare, in terms of the need for good infrastructure, health care insurance, and others. Now because of COVID-19, there is heightened awareness which is giving rise to several opportunities and many innovators are coming up with innovative ideas to solve these problems. They have come up with devices, diagnostics, and even drugs. There are new opportunities in the repurposing of technology and techniques and many task forces are currently working on existing drug or molecules that is used for one disease that could be used to cure another. Similarly in devices also we see several opportunities. So there a lot of opportunities, overall in terms of strengthening the health infrastructure and this is a good development for a country like India.

Q: What are your plans on expansion? Are you also looking at raising funds right now?

A: Yes, indeed. We need to work on two-three major fronts. One is, we need to really speed our manufacturing to increase our capacity so that we are able to cater to the needs of society. We are flooded with inquiries outside of India, like Thailand, Bangladesh, and others Second is, we need to hire in-house, assembly workers, and quality engineers. Once COVID-19 has passed us and present demand reduces as business goes to its usual pace it would be important to have a presence across India, and then we will have to have a large sales force. So, all of this will definitely require capital so we are looking to raise funds. We would like one-and-a-half million dollars but we can go in steps and accept smaller tranches too and when funds become available.