Start-ups, VCs launch Rs 100-cr grant for innovators working on COVID-19 solutions

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New Delhi, Apr 1 () Founders of Indian start-ups, venture capital firms and independent advisors have joined hands to offer a Rs 100-crore ACT Grant for supporting innovators working on solutions for the deadly COVID-19, that has claimed thousands of lives globally.

The ACT (Action COVID -19 Team) initiative has seen participation from venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital India, Accel, Lightspeed, Chiratae Ventures and SAIF Partners as well as individuals like Nandan Nilekani, Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Mukesh Bansal (cure.fit), and Abhiraj Bhal (Urban Company).

SoftBank and Bnext have also contributed to the grant that is being managed by United Way Worldwide.Advertisement

The group will be supported by partner NGOs and industry veterans, and will collaborate with government agencies to scale up solutions that show promising results.

"Investors, industry veterans and founders will collaborate and support start-up founders in their preparation and planning as they face significant economic impact caused by COVID-19. It will be a dynamic resource to share best practices with them and enable them to collaborate and co-operate efficiently with business partners and various other external and internal stakeholders," a statement said.

A Rs 100-crore ACT Grant will springboard innovators who are working on solutions to overcome COVID-19, it added.
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The grant is seeking applications from NGOs, SMEs and start-ups that are working on innovative solutions to combat the effect of COVID-19 in areas like prevention of its spread, scaling testing, disease management at home, enhanced support for healthcare workers and hospitals, management of critically-ill patients, and support for mental health.

So far, Rs 2.5 crore worth of grants have been committed, and 40 proposals have been received. "A 25-member team combining the resources of the start-up community has been formed to enable rapid evaluation and recommendations on potential projects. A leadership team comprising members of the investment advisory community, founders and independent advisors has been formed to make grant decisions," the statement said.Advertisement

Further, a mentoring team has been constituted who can monitor and support post-investment for the projects, it added.

Appreciating the efforts, Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted, "Good to see well known technology leaders of India coming together in the fight against #COVID19 by encouraging innovations. Launch of Action COVID-19 Team(ACT) by them with a corpus of Rs 100 crore to accelerate efficient & scalable solutions on COVID-19 is indeed commendable".

Corporates have been rushing in to help the government and citizens fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India.Advertisement

IT major Cognizant has also announced an initial USD 10 million philanthropic commitment to support communities around the world in addressing the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19.

Cognizant and its US and India-based foundations will provide critical resources to strengthen public health systems, education and workforce institutions, and the economic outlook of communities worldwide, the company said in a statement.

As part of the USD 10 million commitment, the Cognizant US Foundation will match all Cognizant associate contributions to GlobalGiving's 'Coronavirus Relief Fund' throughout April.Advertisement

In a separate statement, short-video platform TikTok said it is donating Rs 100 crore worth of medical equipment in India. TikTok is donating 4 lakh hazmat medical protective suits and 2 lakh masks to protect doctors and front line medical staff in India, it said in a statement. SR RVK
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