Smart toilets to rockets: Startups pitch innovations to PM Modi at Prarambh


3D printers that can continuously print carbon fibre parts, smart toilets that use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology and rockets for space exploration, were some of the innovative technologies on display at ‘Prarambh: Startup India International Summit.’ The other innovations included apps that improve the lives of the visually impaired, mobile brick making machines, jackfruit flour that helps control diabetes and biodegradable personal protective equipment (PPE) suit that can be recycled into other products.

These startups pitched their products and services to Prime Minister and an audience of top business executives, government officials, and investors.

“The energy and dreams of youth are huge. You all are excellent examples of that. This confidence should remain as it is,” Modi told the startup founders. “Think about the range of startups. These include carbon 3D printing, satellite launch vehicle, e-toilet, biodegradable PPE kits and technology for visually challenged. Whatever you said about your startups gives a feel of changing the future. That is a great power.”

One such company is Dhinesh Kanagaraj’s Fabheads which has in-house developed 3D printers with carbon fibre printing capabilities. The Chennai-based firm is providing many applications. For example in the case of long-range drones, the weight of the drone is one of the biggest performance factors alongside battery capacity. Drones with carbon fibre body can provide this low weight while keeping high strength and stiffness. With its expertise in the design of composite products and innovative manufacturing technologies, Fabheads is fast becoming the partner of choice for creative collaboration for leading Indian drone companies in the country. It is supplying drones through one of its partners to the Indian Navy also.

“To give you an idea, this carbon fibre drone (can be built) in just one day, while this will take about to 4-5 days, using traditional manufacturing process,” said Kanagaraj, founder of Fabheads and a former engineer at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

In Bhopal, Ashutosh Giri has founded Fresh Rooms, a technology-driven sanitation startup. It runs on the model of pay, use and redeem points. Fresh Rooms operates using the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technologies, rather than being dependent on humans, to keep restrooms clean, fresh and hygienic. Addressing the issue of hygiene in public toilets Fresh Rooms promises to offer a hygienic space to freshen up and also taking care of their user’s luggage. An app helps to locate the nearest public toilet, details of opening hours, accessibility, parking and other features like babycare. Giri said these smart toilets can save up to 40 per cent of water every year. He aims to build 5,000 such smart toilets by 2024.

Another entrepreneur Gaurav Mittal showcased Eye-D, an artificial intelligence-powered assistive technology app of Bengaluru-based startup called GingerMind Technologies. It helps visually impaired navigate, identify objects and read text using their smartphones. It is like Siri for the visually challenged which helps them live an independent life. Once the visually impaired person opens the app, it talks back taking them through various options to help them with their daily chores. The firm has also developed wearable products to support the visually challenged. If a user wants to read the newspaper, he can just scan it through the phone and app will read the text to him. It supports all major Indian languages. Eye-D has over 70,000 visually-challenged users across more than 160 countries across the globe.

In Hyderabad, Pawan Kumar Chandana showcased his startup Skyroot Aerospace, which is building a family of rockets. It is building technologies for responsive, reliable and economic access to space. The firm envisions a future where spaceflight is as regular, reliable and affordable as air flight. Recently, Skyroot successfully test-fired a solid propulsion rocket stage (named Kalam-5). This is the first time in India that a private company has successfully designed, developed and tested a full solid propulsion rocket stage. Skyroot is founded by former engineers of the rocket design centre of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “We are building advanced rockets, which can be assembled within a day and launch satellites to space,” said Chandana.

From Sonipat in Harayana, Satish Kumar and Vilas Chhikara, from SnPC Machines, showcased a ‘mobile brick making machine.’ It moves like a vehicle and lay the bricks and gives freedom to kiln owners to produce bricks anywhere as per their requirements. The machine has a production capacity of 12,000 bricks per hour. It is able to reduce the production cost by more than half in comparison with manual and other machines. The bricks made are three times stronger than conventional bricks and require very less water compared to other methods. Chhikara said the machine can be managed by the customers using the Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

In the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, Dr.Pawan Mehrotra of Aarna Biomedical Products in Noida showcased a holistic full body disposable and reusable PPE (personal protective equipment) kit. It aims to protect people in vulnerable environments such as health professionals, the security guards, municipal and sanitization workers. These professionals don’t feel any discomfort wearing it due to its breathable material. Also, one is able to reduce biomedical waste significantly using the PPE kit and it can be recycled to make other products.

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