GE Healthcare, which holds a 26% stake in the entity , incubated the idea of GenWorks a little over a year ago inside the company .
“Because we were looking at scaling up our distribution, we went about creating a startup in healthcare distribution within GE,“ Milan Rao, president and CEO of GE Healthcare India told ET.
“The idea of GenWorks is to focus on distribution which is far beyond the traditional boundaries of distribution that you’re looking at currently .“
GenWorks is headed by former GE Healthcare veteran S Ganeshprasad, who owns a majority stake in the firm along with his other former GE colleagues RR Balaji and Kiran Thadimarri. The firm currently has about 215 employees on its rolls and plans to scale up further over the coming months. It currently has a turnover of about ` . 300 crore, said Ganeshprasad.
The startup plans to form partnerships with healthcare centres, hospitals and clinics across the country to scale up and provide medical solutions faster to people in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, said Ganeshprasad.
GenWorks will also run training programmes for hospitals and doctors across the country .
In India, quality and affordable healthcare is still mostly restricted to metros and tier-1 cities.
While advancements in the field of medical technology over the past decade have ensured a trickledown effect to more remote parts of the country , the gulf between facilities enjoyed by tier-1 cities and tier-2 locations still remains vast.
“The idea is to ensure that people in tier-2 and tier-3 cities get the same quality treatment as those in tier-1 metros,“ said Ganeshprasad.
“The most important goal for us is to improve access and affordability of solutions, without compromis ing on quality .“
To solve the challenge of access and affordability of healthcare for the bottom half of India’s population, companies like GE are investing heavily in developing countries like India and using healthcare distribution networks to reach lowerrung towns and cities.
“I think the new adopters, new clients, new geographies is going to solve a lot more of India’s healthcare challenges than just provide technology upgrades to the people who already have it. That was the genesis of the problem. So we decided that we couldn’t just incrementally increase distribution by 10% or 15% -we need to increase distribution much more,“ said Rao.
GE Healthcare’s idea to incubate and spin off GenWorks is another step in the direction of creating a full-fledged incubator programme in India that will support and nurture healthcare startups, people familiar with the plans said.
US-based conglomerate GE is not the only company that is incubating new ideas and experimenting with startups.
In the retail industry, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have also started incubating ideas and even launched corporate accelerator programmes to identify startups with disruptive solutions that can help them stave off new-age, techsavvy rivals such as Amazon.
Rao said a startup-like setup would allow for more scope to experiment.
GE Healthcare is currently in the process of incubating several other ideas in India’s healthcare business.