Sunil Singh | Univlabs Technologies Pvt Ltd
Univlabs Technologies is writing the next chapter for high quality and affordable medical device manufacturing in India with a potent blend of technology, empathy and vision.
Mr Sunil Singh is the CEO & CTO of Univlabs Technologies Pvt Ltd, an integrated, research-based medical equipment company that designs and manufactures a wide range of innovative and affordable medical equipment that are widely trusted and adopted by healthcare professionals, providers and organizations. UnivLabs interest areas are Endoscope Tower, Surgical Robot, Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution for image-based Digital Pathology, Wearable Insulin Patch Pump, Implants for post-operative surgical tissue support and self-care devices.
Its flagship product is a Cloud-connected 4K Endoscope Tower that has been indigenously developed in India and comes with a host of features that enhance OT efficiency and offer financial benefits. The 4K Endoscope Tower comes with Pay per use model to reduce the initial cost of acquisition for the hospitals and the welcome break from the traditional service model in the form of One Button Service Request. OBSR omits the pain of following up with the company for service and maintenance because under the Pay per use model the financial stakes are shared and the onus of ensuring optimum performance by the machine rests with the company. The company has an agile, pan-India distribution network along with a distinguished presence in the MENA region, South East Asia and Africa that reaches its disruptive products and idea to a steadily widening customer and champion base.
So what is his driving passion and dream? What makes him get up in the morning? Mr Singh shares spontaneously,
“Medical devices are still an elitist industry. Product designed & manufactured for the market with a per capita income of more than USD 50,000 is also sold in the market with a per capita income of less than USD 5000. This creates an affordability imbalance which keeps the cost of medical devices high, thus hospitals in developing countries remain unequipped or underequipped. Sunil believes that cutting-edge medical equipment must be available to all health care providers regardless of their clinic sizes or geographic disadvantages. To accomplish this vision at UnivLabs we are leading the charge with the design and manufacturing of a wide range of innovative, high-quality yet affordable medical equipment so that hospitals across the globe can equip better and more on a lesser budget”, says Mr. Sunil Singh, capturing the essence and role of his venture.
Sunil dreams to create a mega factory of medical devices in India and nurture the technology and the people behind it so they can together build national capacity in medical devices and reduce India’s crippling dependence on imports in healthcare sector.
So what is the need gap his venture is addressing? What makes it a game-changer?
According to Mr Singh, at the moment more than 90% of medical devices originate in developed countries where customers have a per capita income close to USD 50,000. When the same products are exported to developing countries where the capita income less than USD 5000, it creates a great imbalance in product and paying capacity. As a result, the healthcare infrastructure in developing countries remains underequipped or unequipped. Global companies have set a great example for India. It is now up to us to channelize those learnings and establish our own manufacturing prowess in medical devices. The MedTech industry can contribute to patient care with affordable medical devices. It will allow hospitals and people to be better and sufficiently equipped to handle sudden like the second wave of Covid 19.
“Majority of the devices and equipment we make in India are non-electronic and we import almost 85-90% of the total medical devices. We make the best doctors and engineers in the world, which reflects our intellectual capability. Can we not create great medical devices, too? All it needs is vision and prioritization. The pandemic has been an eye-opener in this regard”, says the leader with conviction.
We cast a look back into the past, urging him to trace the roots of his journey. What was his family, education and early career experiences like? Mr. Singh gets into #throwback mode before sharing…
“I was fortunate to receive good education, thanks to my parents particularly, my mother who had an unwavering focus that I should do well in studies. I was also fortunate to attend DAV group of schools where we were provided modern education with moral, social and societal values. The parental upbringing and education drives me to be socially responsible.
I started my carrier with an Indo German manufacturing company where I was exposed to superior technology and focus on quality which inculcated the love for technology. Then I worked for a global medical devices company where I learned that the product should not only be functional but it should be fully compliant with standards, reliable and also have a good design. Those two learnings are the key driving force behind every UnivLabs product. I believe that any product which we design should be adaptable if required for the global market even if our local regulatory framework doesn’t make it necessary.”
Every journey of disruption itself experiences disruption at some point. A mission-defining moment of revelation, so to speak. Was there any in Mr Singh’s case? In other words, was there any significant turning point or breakthrough that changed your journey, we enquire. As it turns out, there was. In his own words…
“I used to work for a global medical device giant and visited a few hospitals. On one such visit, I realised that we work for MNCs and take pride in earning big bucks but in the actual sense, we just might be draining our society of talent and finance both. Medical devices we import cost us a lot more. What if we make them in our own country at a much cheaper price maintaining the quality? That thought led me to quit my job and also led to the birth of UnivLabs Technologies Pvt. Ltd. as we set out on a journey to make cutting edge affordable medical devices in India, for the Indian & global market.”
So what were the setbacks he has had to overcome along the way, and what have been the learnings and lessons gleaned thereof? Would he like to share any tips and strategies from his own experiences for the next generation of visionaries and entrepreneurs? The passionate and patriotic leader reminisces candidly…
“I wouldn’t call my experiences setbacks but learnings. As a startup, it’s important that we have a great friends network and supportive family backing because at the beginning when there is only passion and emotion and no product then these very people support you. Also, start-up founders must have strong ethical character and a definite passion to convince people in the close networks and garner financial & emotional support.
During the initial period as startups remain fund crunched, we tend to invest too much energy into chasing money from investors. I believe in the early stages we shall limit our expenses and always have a keen eye on the goal and the quality of product or service that one is working with.
We should also be very cautious at this stage and focus on the fine print while seeking support or accepting incentives from private or government parties. One should never lose the foundation and basic ground rules for self. One must always read the contracts thoroughly and always consider the T&Cs before signing them.”
Every agent of change leaves behind his footprints on the sands of time. Mr Singh’s own should command honourable mention in India’s story as the nation sets its sight towards a position of global prominence in healthcare device and manufacturing. So how would he like to be remembered? The idea-led achiever responds with humility and vision :
“In my lifetime I would at least like to see that Indian Medical Device industry maintains the trade balance wherein imports and exports are in balance. It discomforts me to see the excessive dependence on western countries for basic medical needs. While legacy is a big word but I’d certainly like to see India developing devices as per international standards and quality even if they are affordable. I wish to contribute to the reputation of our country as a reliable and safe supplier of world-class medical devices. I hope to see standards come into existence for every kind of product so we don’t have to worry about competing with people selling poor quality lookalike products.”
“It’s we the people of this country who have to solve our own issues. Pandemic has exposed our weakness and a great nation like India can’t depend on imports. I urge all those who have the talent and the ability to stand up and build for the nation. I would like the business leaders, government and entrepreneurs to nurture technology and protect the people who work on technologies, they are our asset.”
*This story is published by VOH team*
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