India’s women step up with innovative high-tech solutions
By Suroopa Chatterjee
India, often viewed as the crucible of entrepreneurs or entrepreneurship, has thousands of success stories both within and outside its geographical boundaries. Much of a nation’s growth is fuelled by the innovations and entrepreneurial skills of its citizens.
According to a PWC report, India’s corporate sector lacks the capacity to generate the 12 million jobs needed each year to absorb the flood of job market entrants unleashed by India’s demographic dividend. The entrepreneurial sector must therefore also play a major role; it has the operational nimbleness and conceptual depth to create the radical new solutions required for a vibrant future economy.
Experts see the tech industry reaching phenomenal heights, spearheaded by countries like China and India.
With India’s open market of over a billion consumers, 40% are expected to emerge from poverty over the next two decades, a number of them being first time tech users. Many see Asia as the future of the internet—with over 60% of the global population—and as a place where everything will gradually go online with 5G.
For the last couple of years the world has been driven and almost moulded by the tech industry. Disruptions like AI, data analytics, and robotics are new formats that almost all sectors are adopting. Disruptions usher in sudden changes that alter norms and make the existing environment embrace challenges. New trends and ways of doing things spring forth, making it a defining moment.
Entrepreneurship is a driving force that should not just limit itself to growth-oriented business sectors in urban metropolitan areas but should seep into the heartland of its smaller villages and towns.
Women innovators and entrepreneurs are progressively making a noticeable dent in guiding this force, which is impacting essential sectors like healthcare, agrobusiness and the like. India has seen the emergence of many new faces and their contributions, before and after the start of the pandemic, which are helping to create a bright future for women’s entrepreneurship.
However, while it has its advantages, in many societies and especially in the Indian context, technology has also alienated a vast section of the senior population. For the most part, older people still feel more comfortable in an analogue world.
Aparna Thakker, CEO and Founder of Empowerji, has successfully identified the need for learning opportunities for seniors and made training videos on how to use Apps, websites and other technologies, as these are part of literally everything one does in the new world. Her content is driven by what seniors might find useful to empower them to understand and effectively use technology to take care of their daily needs.
Megha Agarwal, Founder and CEO at Leap Skills Academy, started her organization in New Delhi having identified the need for girls, especially those from suburbs, who required their basic skills to be integrated with technical skills to make them job ready or employable. The focus of the academy is to work with motivated students from smaller towns and cities and give them a leg up to realize their aspirations by creating a high-quality, large-scale solution with a sustainable cost structure.
Women technopreneurs have been outstandingly effective players when it comes to using technology to find solutions in this dynamic world with ever changing needs.
For Ayushi Mishra, biomedical engineer and co-founder of Dronamaps, based in Gurugram, it was all about using technology with purpose that paved the way for solutions during the recent pandemic. She and her team designed a live dashboard that tracked and traced COVID patients, which was initially designed for a Punjabi Government project.
But its success has seen it spread to other states. Dronamaps has been used to fence off quarantined patients, cluster analysis of the spread and also aid in location tracking as well as making predictive analyses for spatial spread on the basis of specific parameters.
Recently featured in Vogue India, she joins the ranks of two other technopreneurs—Dr Rachna Dave and Dr Pooja Rao—who also made an impressive impact by using technology for providing life solutions.
For Dr Rachna Dave, microbiologist and co-founder of Chennai-based Microgo, it’s all about keeping lives safe and conserving resources. Her product, Goassure, is a cost-effective hand sanitizer that saves on water waste. Currently she and her team are engaged in finding a solution that would help people avoid wearing a mask in flu-like conditions.
For India’s leading data scientist Dr Pooja Rao—who co-founded Qure.AI, located in Mumbai—AI was a tool that she wanted to use to create state of the art tools in the diagnostics field. She identified the lacuna in healthcare delivery because of an inadequate number of healthcare professionals for bringing instant diagnostics to the patients. She and her team developed a system that analyses and diagnoses medical images like X rays, CT scans, and MRI scans.
The Covid crisis also further caused QURE.Ai to devise AI-fuelled response solutions. With the onset of the pandemic she and her team redesigned their Xray AI tool.
Through specific algorithms they were able to effectively detect a specific type of pneumonia, in the same way that real doctors can identify new diseases based on past learning. Many clinics and hospices in the UK and India are using this tool after seeing its utility, especially during the ongoing pandemic.