CIF Canada India Healthcare Innovation Award, in no particular order!


Press Release

Toronto, Canada: Canada India Foundation (“CIF”), which conceived and implemented the first ever Global Indian Award, designed to honour a globally prominent person of Indian origin, claimed another first on May 21, 2021 with the presentation of the CIF Canada India Healthcare Innovation Awards (“Awards”), the first such award in the Canada India corridor. Six awards were presented at the conclusion of the high-profile Canada India Healthcare Summit 2021 (“Summit”), held on May 20-21 against the backdrop of the most serious global healthcare crisis in living memory. The awards were claimed by young innovative entrepreneurs working to fulfill an unmet healthcare need, in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology and Pandemic Response, which were also the themes of the Summit.


The idea for the Awards, had its origins in the discussions between CIF and Toronto Rehab Institute – UHN (“TRI”), one of the organizing partners of the Summit. TRI’s KITE Power Play Pitch Competition, an annual event created to help accelerate innovation and commercial success in the areas of preventive healthcare and post-disability rehabilitation, was scheduled to take place during the same time as the Summit and a recommendation to hold both events under the same platform for 2021 was enthusiastically accepted by both CIF and TRI. However, when COVID-19 imposed limitations forced TRI to defer the 2021 Pitch competition, Dr. Lakshmanan, Chair of the Summit, suggested creation of the CIF Canada India Healthcare Innovation Awards, a suggestion endorsed by Mr. Satish Thakkar, Chair of CIF, as well as by the Summit’s other co-organizers. While using the same basic framework as the Power Play Pitch competition, the Awards competition differentiated itself by 1) limiting it to young entrepreneurs who are residents of Canada or India and 2) encouraging applications in the same areas as the Summit themes.


The Awards would not have been possible without the generous external sponsors, Mr. Chocko Valliappa, who sponsored two awards on behalf of Sona College of Technology in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Muthu Murugappan, who sponsored an award on behalf of Valensa International, Dr. Ananth Seshan and Ms. Sumitra Seshan, who sponsored an award on behalf of 5G Technologies, and Mr. Ravi Kumar and Ms. Kavitha Subramanian. Despite the short window to apply, 31 applications were received, with a significant majority from India, indicating the reach of the Healthcare Summit and the Award announcements. Applications covered all three themes of the Summit as well as general healthcare. The applications were evaluated in two rounds based on well-defined evaluation criteria and marking system. The weighted criteria included Information about the applicant/organization, Needs Analysis, Clarity of Concept and Solution, Business Plan and Start-Up Readiness, Innovation Component, Relevance to Summit Themes and Community Impact, with additional marks available for the Judges to give at their discretion. A group of six judges had the task of narrowing the field to ten candidates. The quality of the applications was very high and consistent, and as a result, eleven candidates (with a tie for 10th place) were selected and their applications passed on, with out any ranking, to a group of three judges to select the final winners of the Award. As in the preliminary round, there was a tie for the final spot, and as a result, six winners, instead of the originally announced five were selected. The winners were announced on May 21, at the concluding session of the Summit.  It is worthwhile noting that 4 of the winners were from India and 2 from Canada.


The recipients of the first CIF Canada Healthcare Innovation Awards are, in no particular order:

Ravi Avasarala (Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Strl BioSystems,) for Strl®AIR™ Holistic Disinfection System (Co-Founder and CEO – Valli Akella)

Award Sponsor – Valensa International (Muthu Murugappan, Board Director)

Kanishk Kharbanda (Co-Founder, Med Interventions and Beyond) for Multi-Mask (Co-Founder – Deepak Pathania)

Award Sponsor – 5G Technologies (Dr. Ananth Seshan and Sumitra Seshan, Directors)

Dr. Dinesh Krishna (Co-Founder, Amar Seva Global) – Enabling Inclusion™ App

Award Sponsors – Ravi Kumar and Kavitha Subramanian

Saanika Venkatesh (Project Manager, Lactiga Inc.) – Novel Therapeutics for Rare Immunodeficiencies (Dr. Viraj Mane – Co-Founder)

Award Sponsor – Sona College of Technology (Chocko Valliappa, Vice-Chair)

Nikhil Kurele (Co-Founder/CEO, Noccarc Robotics) – Noccarc Oxygen Concentrator

Award Sponsor – Sona College of Technology (Chocko Valliappa, Vice-Chair)

Dr. Saugandha Das (Co-Founder, Edhaa Innovations) – Ultra-Freez, Non-electric alternative to store COVID-19 vaccines (Nisha Yadav, Co-Founder)

Award Sponsor – Canada India Foundation (Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan, Past-Chair, CIF)


Introducing the Awards, Dr. Lakshmanan, who had convinced many of the sponsors to participate, said, “The positive response we received from the applicants and the Awards sponsors confirmed to us that we had chosen the right themes for the Awards competition”. Congratulating the Award winners, the Consul General of India in Toronto, Smt. Apoorva Srivastava, said, “The products that were part of the winning awards were very timely and should be developed fully”. “The Awards presentation is a fitting end to a wonderful Summit” she added. Mr. Satish Thakkar congratulated all winners and applicants and said, “Entrepreneurship and innovation are the founding stones of any economic activity and when the young minds attach to them, the potential is immense.”


Canada India Foundation hopes to make the CIF Canada India Healthcare Innovation Awards presentation a periodic event, either through its own efforts or in partnership with prominent healthcare institutions.


Highlights of the Awards proceedings will soon be available on Youtube. For more information about the Awards and the Summit, please contact Mr. Satish Thakkar ( or Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan (