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This MedTech Startup Aims to Provide “Make in India” Technology to a Global Audience

Dr.-Sudhir-P.-SrivastavaSS Innovations has earned huge popularity for its surgical robotic technology. The company’s mission is to find ways to improve gold-standard surgical procedures by combining great skill, patient care, and constantly advancing technologies. SS Innovation aims to improve the quality of medical services for patients all over the world by pushing the boundaries of technology. SS Innovations is advancing the field of surgical robotics by utilizing cutting-edge technology at an affordable cost, leading surgeons, and cutting-edge training. During an interaction with Nitisha; Sudhir P. Srivastava, Founder, Chairman  & CEO, SS Innovations highlights the value and future of robotic surgery. By purchasing a controlling stake in Avra Medical Robotics, a US business listed with the SEC, the company has now obtained access to worldwide funding and market opportunities.

Kindly talk about SS Innovations and its special offerings.

Sudhir Srivastava Innovations (SSI), based in India, has developed and manufactured a novel, modular, intelligent, and cost-effective surgical robotic system. The Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre in New Delhi (RGCI) had installed the first-ever Made-in-India Surgical Robotic System, SSI-Mantra, developed by the cutting-edge Indian medical technology start-up SS Innovations. We have devised the SSI Mantra, which will usher in a new era of surgical operations in India and globally by making robotic surgery accessible and affordable for all.

Despite decades of successful robotic-assisted surgeries that have helped millions of patients worldwide, widespread access is limited. The primary robotic systems in use today are expensive and have a high learning curve, which limits their availability in a world with a population of over six billion people.

We developed the SSI MANTRA Surgical Robotic System after taking on this challenge and leading with the goal of providing solutions for minimally invasive robotic surgery. The Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute was the first hospital to acquire the SSI MANTRA. The surgeons there have successfully accomplished more than 60 challenging urology, gynaecology, and general surgery procedures since launching the programme in August.

Kindly throw some light on the benefits of Robotic Surgery.

The same bed can be utilized for other patients if the patient’s time in the hospital is kept to a minimum. Therefore, from a business perspective, the hospital will benefit greatly, and from the perspective of the patient, there is nothing better than to just go home soon and resume their life. The traditional surgical techniques, which have been used for a very long period, include huge incisions. The 1980s saw the advent of endoscopic and laparoscopic surgery. Although laparoscopic surgeries require just minor incisions and allow patients to leave the hospital sooner, several difficult procedures, including cardiac surgery, cannot be performed this way. With a real high-definition 1080p resolution and 3D vision magnified up to 10 times, the robotic surgical technology offers features like absolute, extremely precise depth perception. Any tremors the surgeon may have, are then filtered out by the machine. In essence, it is quite exact. There are significantly fewer difficulties. Patients don’t always need to be readmitted for various reasons. Trauma is less prevalent. The little incisions heal quite rapidly because of their size. Neither the thoracic cage nor the muscles are affected. As a result, the patients heal relatively quickly. Less blood is lost. Depending on the speciality, there are different perks. One to two litres of blood are lost during a typical prostate procedure. It is only 100 millilitres for a robotic process. Other methods could not have made any of this possible.

However, the advantages of robotic surgery go far beyond the hospital and are widespread. The technological features of robotic surgery allow us to carry out complex surgeries with the least amount of damage and the greatest amount of advantages, which ultimately spread beyond the hospital. The employee returns, which allows the business to quickly rehire them and get them back to work and earn money. Families are not required to make plans or take time off to see their parents, etc. Reduced healthcare expenditures are the end result. The wider picture is that if you lose, say, a week of work, and you multiply that loss by the number of procedures carried out annually, you have a loss of income or a loss of employee time for the employer, who now needs to recruit someone else, and that person’s experience is irreplicable. These advantages are substantial despite being rather intangible. Additionally, technology has enabled advancement in every profession. Phones, automobiles, and aircraft are just a few examples of technological items that are continually changing for the better and are becoming less expensive. Since the last 50 years, things in medicine have remained constant. We aren’t moving forward at all. Today’s status quo is regressing.

Kindly highlight all the places SSI Mantra has been installed until now.

The robotic surgery system was recently installed at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute in Delhi (RGCI). SSI has installed another system at Sanjeevani CBCC USA Cancer Hospital, Raipur, Chhattisgarh. SSI Mantra has been launched for the first time in Central India. Apart from this, this system has also been installed in Continental Hospital, Hyderabad.

How is SSI Mantra cheaper than other robotic surgery systems and how does the company differentiate itself from other med-tech startups?

We were inspired to promote, support, and train teams in the use of surgical robots after I (Dr Srivastava) returned to India. The plan was to actually start programmes throughout the nation because of their advantages. Due to the high cost, there were only seven or eight robotic systems at the time in 2011. We actually used our own money—roughly Rs. 8 to 9 crores—to buy a robotic system. We discovered it was incredibly pricey, pretty quickly. It was quite challenging for patients to pay directly. The procedures weren’t well known, and insurance was practically nonexistent. The company culture was quite difficult, and there was a lot of strife.

At this point, we understood that there has to be a method to lower the cost of the surgical robots and increase patient access to surgery. I experienced a turning point in my life in 2012 when a 22-year-old woman arrived, brought by her brother. She was born with a congenital heart abnormality that resulted in a hole between the two heart chambers. She will never get married, the brother claimed, if she has a cut on the front of her chest. She was the ideal candidate for robotic surgery, which only required a tiny incision on the side of the chest and left no visible scars. However, they lacked funds. Although I offered my services without charge, the hospital insisted on making a payment that would have totaled several lakh rupees. The woman was uninsured. The brother called me a month after promising to raise money to let me know that they were still having trouble. We never heard from them again after that. I was extremely distressed that patients could not afford the greatest care.  This really pained me and it was at this moment in my life that I decided to get more involved in the development of a more affordable surgical robotic system so that many more patients could benefit from this wonderful technology.

Only a small number of patients in India have benefited from robotic surgery during the past ten years. This technology is still out of reach for many people due to its higher cost. In India, it hasn’t been used at all. SS Innovations set up shop in order to address this need in the nation. Under Atmanirbhar Bharat, a robotic system has been created for the first time in India. In comparison to the current foreign robotic systems, it is less expensive. Currently, a surgical robotic system made by a foreign company costs roughly Rs 16 crores, but an indigenous robotic surgery system will cost only Rs 4–5 crores.

Patients at both private and public institutions in the nation will now be able to benefit from robotic surgery systems at extremely reasonable costs thanks to this effort. According to me, robotic surgery in India has a promising future.

How much is it manufactured in India?

The team in India designed the technology, and it is just assembled and tested here. India is where around 80% of the hardware is produced. Certain electrical parts, including specialized motors, drives, and sensors, are imported by SSI from European nations including Germany and Switzerland as well as Israel, the US, and Japan. We mention “made in India” and “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” on one side, so ideally, we will be able to acquire all of their components from India eventually. We are aware that the nation places a lot of importance on medical technologies. We have great talent in ISRO, DRDO, and AEC, therefore we can develop many disruptive technologies. However, there is no investment in medical equipment here. Nearly 80% of the advanced medical devices are imported, which means there is a drain on foreign exchange. We won’t ever truly advance or gain independence from it. We wanted to truly make the SSI Mantra in India, so we obtained the Make in India certification. Based on the audit report and manufacturing process, they determine how much of the item is produced in India. Almost all hardware is produced in India. We can now compete with other businesses thanks to this as well. Therefore, our approach must be preferred by all central government hospitals, military hospitals, and railroad hospitals.

SS Innovations goes global with their acquisition of the US- Based Avra Medical Robotics. Kindly talk about it.

By purchasing a controlling stake in Avra Medical Robotics, a US business listed with the SEC, we have now obtained access to worldwide funding and market opportunities.

We will be able to access a wider market thanks to this acquisition. Our invention will be widely used. Since we are aware that the precision of surgery is where the future of medical technology rests, this acquisition will assist us in bringing “Make in India” technology to a global audience. The combination of Avra Medical Robotics and SSI will revolutionize medical care worldwide, evoking the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Made in India. Being a part of this effort makes us all proud. A proud moment for the entire country will be when an Indian MedTech start-up appears on NASDAQ.  Through this merger, a new era in healthcare will soon be realized, revolutionizing robotic surgery around the world.


Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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