U.S. Agency for International Development USAID Announces $18.4 Million in Support of Cutting Edge Innovations Rainforest Connection hardware being installed for display purposes. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program recently announced eighteen new grantees. The grantee organizations -- the majority of which are new to USAID -- span seven sectors and nine different countries, from Brazil to Zambia. Since 2010, USAID-supported DIV innovations have collectively impacted 25 million people living in poverty and resulted in $4 in funding from outside investors, lenders and philanthropies for every U.S. taxpayer dollar spent. About the grantees:
(L-R) Arivan.T, AnithaRajagopal and S.T. AnbhanSaadhuguru AnithaRajagopal and Arivan. T, both graduates from the UK, started Yaathum Biotech with the aim of indigenously developing affordable diagnostic kits for rapid and near patient testing of emerging infectious diseases like Drug resistant TB, Ebola, Swine flu, Dengue, Leptospirosis, Malaria, HIV and screening /diagnostic/ prognostic testing of chronic diseases like Cancer, Diabetes, Thalassemia based on real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) and other advanced biomedical technologies like Next Generation Sequencing. As per a recent market study, the Indian diagnostic market comprising primarily of reagents and kits is to a large extent import driven and there is an increasing need for indigenous products with affordable prices, rather than importing kits from abroad which are expensive. Rapid and multiple disease test kits are needed instead of separate single tests. Yaathum Biotech is developing a multiplex qPCR based diagnostic test kit that will make possible the identification of full range of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB) at one third the present cost, taking a few hours to test and capable of identifying all Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) and Extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) strains in a single test which is not available at present. "As of now, POC has been validated. Not diagnosing drug resistant TB at the outset and continuing treatment with standard regimens increases the resistant bacterial population in the individual and the increased chance of its spread in the community, placing an additional burden on constrained resources for TB control," said Ms Rajagopal. She added, "Rapid and early diagnosis of MDR and XDR-TB using our kit will initiate optimal treatment regimens and prevent acquired resistance as well as direct transmission."
What if a bag of fertilizer could be replaced by something that fits in the palm of your hand? Thanks to an innovation by Chennai startup Fibsol Life Technologies, 25 grams of the new biofertilizer N-FIB 20 is equivalent to 25 kilograms of conventional fertilizer. N-FIB 20 provides adequate nitrogen requirements for growth of paddy, sugarcane and vegetables, say its creators. At the IIT Madras bioincubator, PhD scholarsturned- entrepreneurs Kavitha Sairam and Anant Raheja are using nanotechnology and biotechnology to develop lightweight biofertilizers. “Kavitha was my senior in college. We were completing our PhDs from IIT Madras — I was pursuing a thesis in nanotechnology and she was studying biotechnology — when we decided to work together on a product that had applications from both fields,” said Pune-based Raheja.