by Juliana Kenny
India’s healthcare tech scene has been in the spotlight for a few reasons, not the least of which are the country’s basic health challenges due to its overpopulation. Nonetheless — or perhaps as a result — foreign firms are eyeing the room for growth in India on several fronts. Namely introducing tech developed overseas to address medical needs in the country, and investing in domestic startups.
On the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to California in late September, Qualcomm has made good on its promise to invest $150 million into India’s startups, starting with Attune Technologies. The startup will receive $10 million from Qualcomm Ventures; its business brings cloud-based software to devices in medical facilities that connects them to one network. Attune currently delivers this platform to over 200 hospitals, labs, and clinics, combining the internet of things with cloud and healthcare tech. The company plans to expand and broaden its reach to western and southeast Asia.
Tech in Asia reports that Attune is working on a big data-based project, targeting combining data from a rural area to identify where aid is most needed. This project is emblematic of the bigger look into using big data to identify and solve viral disease spread — something the medical community has been mulling for years now. Indeed, in other regions, bouts of malaria and dengue have been the subject of big data exploration as researchers use information gathered from people’s mobile devices to figure out where a disease broke out and how it spread.
(It’s worth noting that Qualcomm itself is investing in healthcare tech; in September, the chip giant acquired Capsule Tech, a company that helps healthcare facilities collect and process data coming off medical devices.)
Qualcomm’s pledge to India’s digital initiatives — something Modi has championed as part of his effort to globalize India and elevate it more into the tech sphere — will likely flesh out over the next couple of years as the processor company seeks fresh business development. (Qualcomm has about 20 Indian companies in its portfolio.) But whether or not it will stick to investment in healthcare tech remains to be seen. Reports note that the company is also launching a “Design in India” initiative to encourage local product design innovation, and a Qualcomm Innovation Lab will be set up in Bangalore, India to provide technical and engineering support to Indian companies.
Regardless, other global tech giants will continue their support. In August, Tencent and Google announced they were investing in Indian healthcare startup Practo. Practo provides an online search tool for consumers to find healthcare professionals such as dentists and specialist doctors, and has raised around $124 million from foreign investors, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is an example of how investment in India’s burgeoning healthcare tech scene overall is garnering overseas’ attention.