Mars Inc., and India’s Tata Trusts Collaborate

Mars Food President Fiona Dawson and Mars family member Stephen Badger traveled to Mumbai on January 6 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tata Trusts and meet with its Chairman, Ratan Tata. Tata Trusts is a coalition of philanthropic trusts headquartered in India, with a mission to improve the quality of life of the communities it serves.

Fiona Dawson and Ratan Tata

Fiona Dawson and Ratan Tata

The memorandum of understanding seeks to advance the development of agriculture, address malnutrition, and improve food safety in India.

The two entities will develop methods and tools to increase crop productivity, farm income, and sustainability of select agriculture commodities, and to collaborate on the availability of safe, affordable, and sustainable raw materials from India. Mars Food, a segment of Mars, Incorporated, also intends to conduct joint research with the Tata Trusts on nutritional guidelines that can help address anemia and other forms of malnutrition, reports Consumer Goods Technology.

The collaboration will also extend to reducing Aflatoxin contamination in India.  Aflatoxin – a naturally occurring, poisonous chemical produced by certain molds – is a critical food safety issue in India. It affects raw materials such as the peanut, a key crop in India’s food supply chain. Mars has expertise in addressing Aflatoxin contamination and can draw on its Global Food Safety Center in China to conduct future research in this area.

January 30, 2016   No Comments

India’s Healthcare Info Company Lybrate Gets $10 Million Funding

 Eighteen-month-old Lybrate, based in New Delhi, which aims to increase access to doctors and quality healthcare information, received $10.2 million in funding from Tiger Global, Tata Sons’ President Emeritus Ratan Tata and existing backer Nexus Ventures.

The Opportunity: People in metro areas put off visiting doctors for lack of time, traffic congestion, and just the hassle. Whereas people in rural areas, where fewer doctors are available, preferred to get medicines prescribed by local pharmacists.

The CEO: Saurabh Arora left the U.S. and his job as a data scientist in Facebook and returned to India to start the business when, on a visit home, he realized the need for a web-based platform along with apps for Android and iOS that could connect doctors to patients and break down the barriers surrounding healthcare in India.

The Product: Users can search doctors and surgeries, make and manage appointments, and save their medical records. Patients can consult more than one doctor for opinions – they are only charged when they choose to enter into a one-on-one dialogue with a doctor. In that event, the app handles the communication, allowing them to share photos, videos and chat via text with the physician. Patients are charged a variable fee set by the doctor, and an additional ‘internet handling fee’ — typically a further 5 to 15 percent — which goes to Lybrate, reports Tech Crunch. Additionally, Lybrate’s mobile apps carry Facebook-like feeds which provide daily health tips and advice to users based on their own needs or situations, such as pregnant women or seniors.

“Lybrate’s concept is ground breaking. We believe it has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery in India and script the future of the healthcare industry with its model,” said Lee Fixel, the Tiger Global partner who has overseen the firm’s major investments in India.

July 9, 2015   No Comments

Stylish Tata Nano is now a Museum Exhibit at Cornell

An innovative  car from India that costs just $2,500 is now the  star of a museum exhibition at an Ivy League school.

It most countries, you may be excused from thinking this a crazy notion. And it wouldn’t generally work unless there’s something special on offer. Which in this case is a zippy car, built on a very tight budget, and which emits a much smaller percentage of carbon dioxide than the average city car.

That’s right, the car is question is Tata Motors Nano. Billed as the modern, contemporary emission-friendly city car, the first piece was delivered into the commercial capital of India, Mumbai, amidst much enthusiasm. It has received the Frost & Sullivan 2009 Innovation Award for outstanding innovation and exceptional contribution to the auto industry.

And now, it receives another honor – that of playing center stage at the Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art’s 2011 exhibition highlighting societal change. The car is featured alongside a hanging exhibition of the Nano dismantled and its parts suspended. To further illustrate how environmentally friendly the Nano really is, a 25-foot diameter balloon will float in the museum gardens; a depiction of the Nano’s entire emissions for a year. Cost efficiencies must go hand in hand with sustainable living. Tata’s Nano is indeed a combination of the above, and a reminder that it is possible to be trendy and practical while saving the world.

Tata’s Nano was conceived of in 2006 as a  solution to meet the needs of the common man and the rural worker. Its  all-aluminum, two cylinder engine delivers 54 miles per gallon and despite its size (10 feet by 5 feet),  meets  current regulatory requirements.

February 10, 2011   No Comments

Nano Gujarat Plant Up in Record Time

Anything that’s said about  Tata Motors’ Nano makes for news, and why not, never before did we hear of a $2,100 car! At the recent roll out of the Nano from its Sanand (Gujarat) plant  it enjoyed some added attention. Cornell University Assistant Professor, Aleksandr Mergold with his team of four assessed the future of the car. Mergold suggested that Cornell University is considering an U.S. exhibition of the Nano. The plant in Gujarat has been set up in just about 24 months.

Interestingly, Tata Motors and Cornell University go back a long way.  Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group is a Cornell alumni. Cornell University some time back had received $50 million endowment from the Tata Education and Development Trust, a philanthropic entity of  the Tata Group.

Tata’s Nano has garnered attention around the globe on its own merit, specifically based on its unique price point. The Gujarat plant was set up in record time and is all set to multiply production from 10,000 cars a month to 30,000 a month.

At presently, Nano is manufactured out of the Tata Pantnagar plant which is led by my friend P.K. Chobe.

Ratan Tata with the Nano

July 20, 2010   No Comments

Low Cost Water Purifer: Bottom of the Pyramid innovation from Tata

Tata Chemicals is challenging Unilever’s India unit for the world lowest cost home water purifier, based on a rice husk ash filter. With a starting retail price of $16 for the unit, it costs less than half of Hindustan Unilever‘s breakthrough PureIt unit which has been a runaway success in India with $40 million in sales and three million units delivered already. The replacable filter for the Tata unit costs $6.

Tata "Swach" low cost water purifier

Tata "Swach" low cost water purifier

Tata’s Rallis Kisan Sansar and Tata salt’s distrbution network will distrbute the product.Built around a bulb-like water purifier made of rice husk ash filled with nano-silver particles, the Tata “Swach” can function without electric power or running water. The cartridge bulb has a purification medium that kills bacteria and disease causing organisms. It can purify up to 3,000 litres of water, after which the cartridge stops water flow. Fifteen patents have been filed for the technology and product. The filter was designed in a Tata Consultancy Services lab in Pune, while the silver nanotechnology was added by Tata Chemicals. Titan, Tata’s watch subsidiary, made the precision machine tools to manufacture the filter. Pune based Design Directions Private Limited provided industrial design services.Among the features of Swach which Design Directions added was pattern of the upper chamber which will facilitate manual  cleaning,and the stackability’ of the two chambers which reduced the height of the box used for packaging (this makes it possible to fit one inside the other ensures that more packs can be carried in one truck). The current model doesn’t neutralize some contaminants such as arsenic.

Ratan Tata shows off  Tata "Swach"

Ratan Tata shows off Tata "Swach"

Initial production will be one million units a year from a Tata Chemicals plant in Haldia, West Bengal, with a planned ramp-up to three million units annually within five years.

Safe clean water is in dire shortage in India and other developing countries. Without it disease is rampant: typhoid, cholera, jaundice and diarrhoea (which will kill about 380,000 children in India alone this year). Almost 80 per cent of diseases in developing countries are associated with water, causing some 3 million early deaths. Tata expects to sell this unit in Africa and other parts of the world eventually.

January 3, 2010   No Comments