On November 17, EyeFocus embarked on a fascinating trip to India. During the visit, we met with our partners at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, one of the most important and innovative eye-care hospitals in the world; we also judged eye-care startups pitching at the Startup India Rocks Finale conference in Bangalore.
Partner Visit with Aravind
Aravind is an exemplary global example of how to deliver quality healthcare to everyone – both rich and poor. Our founder, Tobias Stone, visited the hospital to meet with EyeFocus Mentor Thulasiraj Ravilla. During the tour of their facilities, he met with some of Aravind’s innovators and discussed some current issues in the eye-care field around the world, including the fact that many patients have trouble self-administering eye drops. The team has explored a number of solutions, and has now created a simple 3D-printing device that holds any eye drop bottle in the correct position, thus ensuring the drops hit the correct part of the eye.
The visit by EyeFocus led to additional networking opportunities with Aurolab, a company based at Aravind. Aurolab was founded by Aravind to provide high-quality products for cataract operations to NGOs and hospitals around the world. Aurolab has grown considerably since its conception, and is now able to provide low-cost, quality products worldwide. They have developed a kit with sutures, lenses and eye drops to costs only $10, thus furthering Aravind’s commitment to low-cost, quality healthcare.
Aravind have perfected a unique model of healthcare that allows them to treat nearly half of their patients for free – this includes treatment and operations. There are two hospitals within Aravind – the free hospital and the paying hospital. While the facilities differ superficially in terms of comfort and design, the quality of the healthcare is the same across the system, offering affordable or free eye care to those who cannot afford it.
EyeFocus Joined #STIR2016 Finale in Bangalore
In Bangalore, EyeFocus was part of the #STIR2016 Finale Event. We were thrilled to see pitches from our participating startups – some of whom had flown from Mumbai and Delhi. The programs placed a great emphasis on digital braille, as well as accessibility for blind and illiterate people. The winner of the pitching competition was the Oswald Foundation, whose founders range from just 18 years old. The company began with a product designed to provide a reading solution for people with Dyslexia.
These startups and the innovators from Aravind will join the EyeFocus program to receive mentoring and further support from our network of partners and mentors. They will also receive introductions with our sponsor, Bayer, to talk about how to develop products into the wider eye-care market.