Self-Disinfectants - The New Sensation. What does it hold for Indian Startup Ecosystem?

Graduated in engineering in 1998, Paras found his first interest in TCS, one of the biggest IT consulting companies and eventually took the entrepreneurial plunge with TriggerO and later 3R Scientific Solutions

Virus associated infectious diseases remain as the major causes of human morbidity and mortality, and leads to a significant healthcare cost in India. Recent example is COVID pandemic. Unusual aspects of human-animal interaction pose a threat and add tochallenges with respect to the emergence of infectious diseases.Estimates indicate that the majority of infectious diseases and emerging infections of humans are zoonotic in origin, and mostly originating in wildlife.

In times like these it became necessary to tackle the situation that was slipping from our hands and all thanks to the companies in India who showed mettle and geared up their manufacturing units to make huge quantities of sanitizers and disinfectants, otherwise the situation could have gone worse. In this article we will elaborate on the Self-Disinfectants that have become the new sensation worldwide and in India. What's the future of this industry and what does it hold for the startup ecosystem?

Government planning to invest in healthcare infrastructure will put direct impact on this segment with a sudden increase in demand for surface disinfectants and coatings to provide the public with a safe environment and prevent any hospital acquired infections(HAIs)

India's surface disinfectant market is anticipated to grow significantly over the coming years. Owing its success to the sensitized general public, which is now more cautious about health & hygiene.Surface disinfectants are chemical compositions that can be applied to surfaces like wood, plastic, micas etc to make them microbe safe. Further, keeping surroundings clean is the utmost priority of the people more than ever, when the outbreak of diseases and infections has become frequent.

All this complements the overall growth of the surface disinfectant market in India. The industry is about to witness its peak in coming years. Among many countries in the Asia Pacific region, India holds the highest shares of the market followed by China. Various market research estimates the Asia Pacific disinfectant market to be worth USD 235.57 million by 2024 from USD 153.59 million in 2019. Growing at a CAGR of 8.9 per cent and capturing 25per cent of global market share.

New entrants and homegrown startups are now dominating this category after the outbreak. In a report released by Nielsen India astonishing figures come from the 'sanitizer' industry a total of 152 new manufacturers started making sanitisers in March. The figures show a promising future for the Indian startups who are trying to foray in the personal and public hygiene market.

In this category, a new product self-disinfecting coating has been making a great noise lately. Though the surface coating technology is a decade old technology but it gained recent success when the Singapore government recently announced that it will disinfect the public places including Change Airport by using self-disinfecting surface coatings. Self disinfecting surfaces are an emergent technology to control infection.Surfaces and poor public hygiene are one of the major factors contributing to infection patterns.

The product is quite promising as it stays on the surface for 3 months with the help of molecular level bonding that binds on almost any surface, nano patches of needle like structures rupture the membrane of the pathogens thereby leaving it ineffective.The technology arrived in India and was welcomed. The entrepreneurs in India looked at it as an opportunity to tap the market and provide a rather permanent solution for public hygiene and safety. As handwash and sanitizers are a temporary solution and are products of personal hygiene.

India is now the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, after the US and China. According to a nine-month funding report, homegrown Indian startups managed to raise $7.67 billion in the nine months that ended on September 30, 2019.

Recently a challenge, 'Submit Solutions to combat COVID-19' was launched on the Startup India Portal. Which was aimed at scouting innovative technologies and solutions for precautionary as well as treatment-related interventions to fight the pandemic. The solutions were invited under Large area sanitization and sterilization, PPE, Testing equipment etc.

The challenge received an overwhelming response and many ideas received initial help from the government. PM's call for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) has added new energy to the startup ecosystem.

A Pune-based company recently has developed a disinfect-technology to reduce the viral load of infected areas within a room, received government funding recently. The enterprising Indians have also developed AI based models for contactless entry, crowd management to name a few. This shows that the Indian startup ecosystem though slow but picking up pace and is heading in the right direction. While an economic slump has subdued the fundings in startups and global slowdown has made the investors a bit susceptible, this has not stopped Indian entrepreneurs from chasing their dreams.

A fact that can't be ignored is that, this particular category of providing sustainable solutions for the public and personal hygiene will make exponential growth because of booming healthcare demands of India. Government planning to invest in healthcare infrastructure will put direct impact on this segment with a sudden increase in demand for surface disinfectants and coatings to provide the public with a safe environment and prevent any hospital acquired infections(HAIs). As always it's the end users that decide the fate of any industry.

As of now, we witness a marked increase in startup activities in this particular segment with the emergence of nascent startups across India. We hope to see an emergent market segment that works as a mutual beneficial ground for all the stakeholders.