TechnoparkToday.com>> It began with a tweet of businessman Anand Mahindra in June last year. Fed up with reports of deaths of sanitation workers during cleaning of septic tanks, Mahindra wondered what was preventing widespread adoption of scavenging machine ‘Bandicoot’ developed by a group of young students. “If funding is needed to produce in scale, count me in,” he had tweeted.
Following this tweet, chief executive officer of Genrobotics Vimal Govind M K needed not have to think twice before sending a mail to Mahindra. Now, Bandicoot has won Rs 2.5 crore investment from the billionaire businessman. It is the commitment of Genrobotics team to put an end to the issue of manual scavenging that made Mahindra develop interest in the project.
Vimal said that more than the funding, he sought support of Mahindra in utilising his network for the widespread use of bandicoot and thus realising their dream to end manual scavenging in the country. “As the government agencies are the major beneficiaries, we needed people who could help in networking. Mahindra not just offered support in networking, he agreed to fund. This was to realise by March, but got delayed due to Covid,” said an elated Vimal, who aims to scale up the product across the country. Bandicoot has presence in around 11 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
Interestingly, the Genrobotics also won the national startup award under the campus-initiated startup category instituted by Satrtup India on Tuesday. Bandicoot was developed by a team of classmates from MES College, Kuttippuram, Malappuram in 2018. Initially, Kerala Water Authority agreed to support the development. Later Genrobotics was incubated under Kerala Startup Mission. The arm of bandicoot can enter manholes and sewers and remove the accumulated debris. Usually sanitation workers have to enter into the filthy water to manually clear the clogged materials. Several sanitation workers have lost lives due to the inhuman working condition.
Vimal said that the investment from Mahindra will be utilised in Tamil Nadu for its initiative to phase out manual scavenging entirely from the state.