Global professional services firm ZS launches ZS PRIZE to advance healthcare innovation in India

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With a legacy of over 35 years and presence in 14 countries, ZS, a global professional services firm has announced ZS PRIZE to help innovators solve for India’s healthcare challenges of availability, accessibility and affordability.

Indian healthcare system is facing prominent challenges – fragile infrastructure, unaffordable specialized medical care, and lack of accessibility, to name a few. Today, discussions are mainly around how can citizens at large contribute to creating a roadmap where healthcare becomes accessible and affordable for all in India.

In such times, when India’s healthcare is asking for dire attention, a program like ZS PRIZE can be become the catalyst to bring together a number of people from diverse backgrounds to work on creating solutions to tackle these problems.

Launched October 28, 2020, ZS PRIZE will accept registrations which can either be ideas or solution prototypes, through December 21, 2020.The top 20 selected teams, evaluated on pre-defined criteria, will go through a six-week mentorship with ZS leaders between January and February 2021. The top 8 teams out of the 20, will then present their solutions to the jury in March 2021.

A grand prize winner plus 7 additional teams will be selected by a panel of judges and industry experts. The top 8 teams will share an Rs 1 crore prize purse. ZS PRIZE is open to students (graduates and postgraduates from any discipline) and professionals from the start-up, enterprise and NGO sectors of India.

The COVID-19 crisis exposed the existing fault lines in healthcare systems across the globe. In India especially, the pandemic has created additional pressure on the already fragile healthcare system.

With the theme of ‘shaping the future of health and healthcare in India by creating innovative and transformative solutions leveraging data, analytics and technology’, ZS PRIZE will invite participants from any stream to solve for their fellow citizens’ challenges for easily available and inexpensive healthcare solutions. A programme like ZS PRIZE can also help further the mission of Ayushman Bharat, which too aims at making healthcare accessible to Indians at large.

Sanjay Joshi, regional managing principal and Asia head at ZS offers that, “ZS PRIZE is in essence a ‘Solve for India.’ It is a call for action to all the sharp minds across India to come forward and showcase their brilliant ideas to solve for the availability, accessibility and affordability issues in the Indian healthcare ecosystem. We want to reward healthcare innovation that does the greatest good for the greatest number in India. In light of today’s pandemic, healthcare has become the dominant theme of the times. And with ZS PRIZE, we want to reward those innovations that driven by advances in data and AI technologies as well as advances in life sciences technologies.”

The independent jury members boast some of the most accomplished visionaries in healthcare, venture capital, academic and business sectors. This include Ravi Venkatesan (business leader, author, and social entrepreneur founder of GAME and former chairman of Microsoft India, ZS PRIZE Jury Chairman), Dr. Dipak Jain (president & professor at China Europe International Business School, Former Dean of Kellogg School of Management), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (executive chairperson of Biocon), SangitaReddy (joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals), Sandeep Singhal (co-founder and managing director, Nexus Venture Partners), Dr Ferzaan Engineer (Ex-Quintiles India co-founder; CEO, CyteCare Hospitals; member of the board of directors of Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company and Cytespace Research), Dr Vijay Chandru (co-founder & chairman, Strand Life Sciences) and Prof K SrinathReddy (president, Public Health Foundation of India).

With his vast experience across industries, Ravi Venkatesan has joined ZS PRIZE as the jury chairman. In this capacity, Venkatesan has helped ZS shape the vision for ZS PRIZE and will moderate jury deliberations and judge the top 8 finalists in March 2021.

“COVID-19 has put health and healthcare centre-stage,” said Venkatesan. “It has also exposed the shortages of the healthcare system in many countries including India. Making our healthcare prevention-driven, affordable and accessible will require technology-enabled innovation. It’s fantastic to have a firm like ZS, which has played a seminal role in the global life sciences industry for almost four decades, step up to the challenge.”

In his message to the participants, Venkatesan added, “ZS PRIZE is intended to inspire students and professionals, to come forward with their ideas for impactful and scalable solutions to India’s healthcare challenges. We hope to identify a few outstanding technologists and entrepreneurs who have the potential to revolutionize healthcare in India and work with them to scale their impact.”