New Delhi: The Union Budget 2023–24 has sparked a wave of excitement among technology-driven start-ups. With the enhanced focus on artificial intelligence (AI), this year Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has laid the proposal for establishing three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence (AI) to be set up in top educational institutions to realise the vision of ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’. Apart from this, the last year’s draft of the National Data Governance Policy (NDGP) has been roped into the Union Budget as a policy initiative to unleash innovation and research by start-ups and academia. Several tech innovators and leading start-up executives across the country shared their views on whether the Union Budget for 2023–24 has come as a boon for the industry or if it’s just business as usual.
Namit Chugh, Investment Lead, W Health Ventures, stated, “We are particularly excited about the announcement to open three inter-disciplinary AI research and development centres to ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’. AI in healthcare has already shown immense promise across the globe in improving care. Given the potential to create large healthcare data sets in India used to train AI and the pool of highly qualified tech talent, this move by the government makes us more ready than ever to make AI in healthcare a trillion-dollar opportunity. Additional investment in developing and upskilling healthcare personnel like nurses and technicians was one of our key expectations from the budget. We welcome the announcement to set up 157 new nursing colleges in the country, a move that will be pivotal not only to healthcare but also employment.
“With a focus on accessible, affordable, and inclusive healthcare for all, along with an emphasis on improving health infrastructure, bettering R&D for innovations, and improving healthcare services in the country, the Union Budget 2023 for the healthcare sector is a step in the right direction. This will ensure that everyone in India gets access to healthcare services. The initiatives announced to strengthen the digital healthcare infrastructure will prove beneficial for the healthcare sector in the years to come. It is an inclusive budget for the healthcare sector to benefit all sections of society,” shared Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO, GOQii.
Amol Naikawadi, Joint Managing Director, Indus Health Plus, commented, “The 2023 Union Budget looks optimistic for the healthcare sector. With the government’s focus on advanced technologies like AI, research, educational institution partnerships, an increase in nursing college and skilling in MedTech, the sector will get a boost from overall healthcare services and solutions standpoint. In addition, the mass screening initiative by the government in association with private players to eradicate diseases like sickle-cell anaemia will also educate people about the importance of good health and screening. In my opinion, the budget should have also given more preference to healthcare and a specific focus on the prevention of NCDs as they are one of the major rising burdens in India, both from a health and financial perspective. Apart from that, technologies like genetic testing should also have been on the priority list that is enabling and empowering the healthcare sector with personalised medicine.”
“An increase in budget allocation for health infrastructure and digital transformation will enable a futuristic development of the country’s health bodies. Additionally, a special focus on green energy and sustainability are key takeaways that will help foster sustainable products in the country. Also in the budget, it was declared that new programmes for pharmaceuticals would be formulated and investment in research would be encouraged. With such a step, it will boost not just the infrastructure but also the backbone of the healthcare sector with advanced research in medical sciences,” commented Shabnum Khan, Founder, 750AD Healthcare Pvt Ltd.
Amrit Singh, Co-Founder, CRO, Loop Health, said, “The budget has focused on improving India’s R&D capability in pharma and medical devices while increasing vocational training in nursing. In their approach to sickle cell anaemia eradication, they have shown a preventive healthcare framework of health education, proactive testing, and treatment that should be the cornerstone of all healthcare in India, which is currently only focused on last-mile sick care. We hope future budgets will cater to preventive care. Widening the infrastructure across India is the primary need when it comes to strengthening the healthcare structure. And to do so, we need more skilled talent and a larger budget.”
Sujata Pawar, Co-Founder & CEO, Avni, added, “The budget strikes an appropriate balance between confronting the key foundations of health & well-being, inclusive development, human capital, innovation, and R&D, as well as laying the groundwork for a prosperous economy by investing heavily in infrastructure. The government’s intention to empower women entrepreneurs through self-help clusters focused on raw material supply, product branding, and marketing is also a very unique and sensible step given that community impact plays a major role with women in India. Furthermore, the announcement of 157 new nursing colleges will further aid strengthen India’s primary healthcare system. The mission mode programme to eradicate sickle cell anaemia can be tremendously impactful. Such programmes are a marathon and not a sprint yet can create a fantastic template for programmes for other diseases like curable blindness in subsequent years.”
Krishna Veer Singh Co-Founder and CEO, Lissun voiced, “It was evident during the lockdown that mental health has remained an ignored area and demands immediate attention. In the last budget, Hon’ble FM announced the launch of a Tele Mental Health service. This year, the budget has encompassed the needs of healthcare professionals by announcing 157 new nursing colleges. All this together will serve the purpose of adding fuel to the healthcare infrastructure, and it is the only way it will make complete sense. Also, there has been a significant increase in the budget allocation towards the Healthcare Ministry which indicates the government’s attention toward health standards in the country.”