In a groundbreaking development, India-based company Voxelgrids has launched an advanced and affordable MRI scanner with the potential to revolutionize healthcare accessibility not only in India but also worldwide. With funding from BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council), an institution set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, to nurture and promote biotechnology innovations and industry in India, Voxelgrids has successfully developed a cutting-edge MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner that is significantly more affordable than traditional counterparts, breaking down barriers to access for billions of people previously unable to afford the procedure.
The global MRI equipment industry reached USD 7.08 billion in 2022, and is projected to grow to USD 11.50 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.3% during the forecast period. The market is dominated by the world’s largest brands with 80 percent market share. Although the global MRI industry has grown significantly, a staggering 70 percent of the world’s population still lacks access to MRI machines. Factors driving their increased adoption include technological advancements and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases. However, the high cost of traditional MRI scanners remains a significant barrier. Addressing this challenge, an Indian company has introduced an affordable MRI scanner, offering cost benefits of up to USD 800,000 compared to the conventional models. With its cost-effective solution, the company aims to empower millions globally by enhancing healthcare accessibility and providing critical diagnostic capabilities.
The Voxelgrids MRI scanner, priced at approximately USD 400,000, represents a fraction of the cost of conventional 1.5T Whole Body Scanners, which typically range from USD 670,000 to USD 1.2 million. The substantial cost difference can create a profound impact on healthcare accessibility worldwide.
Voxelgrids received grant support from BIRAC in 2019 worth approximately USD 1.78 million under the National Biopharma Mission (NBM) – a key component of India’s flagship schemes for promoting manufacturing and innovation like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India.’ The support from DBT-BIRAC has been crucial in their development leading to the commercial launch of this groundbreaking product, which obtained the license to manufacture and commercialize in June 2023.
Notably, the Voxelgrids scanner is also more compact and lightweight, offering greater flexibility in transportation and installation. The feature makes it a viable option for serving rural and remote areas in the U.S. that may not have the access to traditional MRI facilities due to their size and logistical constraints.
The significance of the development of the Voxelgrids scanner cannot be emphasized enough. It represents a major breakthrough in the field of medical imaging and can help bridge the healthcare gap by democratizing MRI diagnostics, ensuring it is more accessible to people worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, only five of the MRI scanners in the world are located in low- and middle-income countries, including regions of the U.S. with limited resources. The affordability of Voxelgrids scanner offers the possibility of bringing MRI diagnostics within the reach of underserved communities.
Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Science & Technology, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Government of India said, “India will improve healthcare access and inclusiveness by making available the first indigenously developed MRI scanner, which is affordable compared to the already available machines. He said it also offers the prospect of sharing this success with other nations in the global south to help them with access to affordable and dependable medical imaging solutions.”
Dr Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), said, “The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) through its various programs has put in considerable effort in strengthening the biopharma sector with respect to the devices and diagnostics ecosystem in India and contributes to global health initiatives.”
“Voxelgrids’ innovative MRI scanner aligns perfectly with our mission to foster transformative research in healthcare. At BIRAC, we have always been committed to supporting cutting-edge research and development initiatives that can create a positive impact in society. The collaboration sets a precedent for indigenous advancements, making cutting-edge medical technology accessible and inclusive, improving the lives of millions around the globe.,” said Dr. Jitendra Kumar, Managing Director, BIRAC, who was recently appointed as the Managing Director of BIRAC to nurture and promote technology innovations in the industry.
Arjun Arunachalam, Founder and CEO, Voxelgrids said, “Our revolutionary MRI scanner is a testament to our belief that cost should never be a barrier to critical healthcare services. The low-cost MRI scanner is set to transform the healthcare landscape, empowering healthcare providers to serve diverse communities and drive positive health outcomes globally. At Voxelgrids, we are on a relentless mission to make medical imaging affordable for all.”