BENGALURU: Anand Sivaraman met Anand Vinekar in a train coming from Coimbatore to Bengaluru, where they both lived. Sivaraman, a PhD in chemical engineering, was working with biotech firm ReaMetrix. Vinekar was a pediatric ophthalmologist with Narayana Netralaya. Vinekar told him about his work, and the problems he faced due to high costs of imaging equipment. Sivaraman, who knew a thing or two about optical imaging, immediately spotted an opportunity.
At 3.5 million a year, India has the largest share of premature births in the world, twice as much as China, the next highest. Retinopathy – damaged retina – is quite common among premature infants. “About 47% of premature babies develop retinopathy,” said Vinekar. Unless detected early, these children become blind.
A complete image of the retina needs a wide-field imaging camera, costing around $100,000 (about Rs 65 lakh). Not many hospitals can afford it, and so the problem goes undiagnosed till it is too late. Sivaraman roped in Pramod Kummaya, a colleague at ReaMetrix and a product designer.
Remidio Innovative Solutions was set up in 2010, with Rs 5 lakh from the promoters and two friends. It got Rs 15 lakh soon from IKP Knowledge Park in Hyderabad. By the end of that year, it showed an imaging device prototype to Wellcome Trust. The UK-based organisation liked the idea but did not quite trust the product. Could Remidio bring out a fully engineered version soon? Wellcome Trust gave the company Rs 1 crore and one year to do so. The fully engineered version was ready by the end of 2011. Within a month, Remidio got Rs 4 crore and three more years from Wellcome Trust, and last year it launched the device. It is useful to detect diabetic retinopathy early,” said Sivaraman.