Pivot and Persist: How Pune-based startup PadCare Labs is using UV technology to combat coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a demand for disinfection services. A report by 6W Research, a Delhi-based market research company, reveals that the Indian surface disinfectant market is expected to register high growth during 2020-2026 owing to the increased demand for the disinfection services amid the pandemic. At a time of unprecedented global health crisis, several entrepreneurs have been focusing on providing disinfection services, which have become the need of the hour, as the country opens up after observing an extended lockdown. Pune-based PadCare Labs is one such business that is helping people fight the infectious virus through its UV disinfection technology.

Founded in 2018 by Ajinkya Dhariya, PadCare is aimed at providing menstrual waste management services. The startup’s core products SANECO and UVECO have been designed to ensure proper disposal of sanitary napkins.  However, with the emergence of COVID-19, the startup changed its business model and developed two products, namely UVSATHI and UVHANDY, to disinfect surface areas and inanimate objects using UV-C technology. Pre-COVID-19 vision According to Ajinkya, the idea of PadCare is to create a circular economy by converting hazardous sanitary napkin waste into eco-friendly waste and recycle the residual byproducts of sanitary pads such as paper and plastic pellets for new use.  

PadCare’s B2B product UVECO is a UV-based touchless sanitary pad collection bin that is installed in washrooms. The bin automatically opens its lids when one hovers their hand over its sensor. The collected sanitary napkins are then transferred to the centralized processing unit, SANECO, which disinfects and segregates the waste.

Fighting COVID-19 According to Ajinkya, the Founder and CEO, the company conducted five pilot runs of the products for six to seven months across Pune and claims to have served over 350 women daily. He says the startup was on its way to commercially implement the products, however, the plans got stalled after the pandemic broke out and amid the subsequent lockdown.

The startup developed two products — UVSATHI and UVHANDY. According to the founder, UVSATHI is a remote-controlled air and surface disinfection unit. Certified by the NABL-accredited lab, the product can decontaminate areas from 50-500 sq ft. Currently, the product is being tested at ICMR labs specifically for its effect on COVID-19.  “The products can be used to disinfect hospital wards, school classrooms, and offices, and the UV-C unit will destroy all kinds of pathogens. The products have different variants depending on the surface area it can decontaminate. The machine just needs to be kept in the room and switched on,” the founder says. He also mentioned that human beings cannot be in the room during the decontamination process, and thus the machine has been designed to start 30 seconds after it is switched on for people to leave the room. 

UVHANDY, on the other hand, is a handheld and portable sanitization system for the decontamination of inanimate surfaces. The product can be used to disinfect surfaces such as office desks, door handles, parcels, food deliveries, and bags, among others. Both the products can also sanitize and disinfect N-95 masks for reuse.  Explaining the technology, the founder said that the UV-C light can deactivate bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens by attacking their DNA molecules, causing them to lose their reproductive capability and turn them inactive.

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