A team of researchers from the Center for Biomaterials, Cellular & Molecular Theranostics (CBCMT) at Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Vellore, was declared the winner of MaterialNEXT 2.0 hosted by TATA Steel on 9th July 2021.
Tata Steel Advanced Materials Research Centres (TSAMRC) has been actively associating with young college talents through their 'Campus Connect' program, and MaterialNEXT is an open innovation Pan-Indian event to identify budding research talents and materialize potential ideas.
Team 'Titans' from VIT, Vellore, mentored by the Director & Senior Professor Dr. Geetha Manivasgam of CBCMT, comprises of interdisciplinary research scholars Ms. Pearlin Hameed, Mr. Ansheed Raheem, Mr. Aswin G & Ms. Jishita R. They had bagged a cash prize of Rs. 5 Lakhs after marking a prolific win in the grand finale conducted on 09th July 2021.
After four screening levels, the team secured their final spot, competing against 250 teams from across India over six months amid the pandemic restrictions. In the finale, they were challenged by runner-up 'Team Changemakers' from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and three other teams from IISc-Bangalore, IIT-Guwahati, and IIT-Gandhinagar.
The team innovated by designing and developing a novel 3D printed porous Titanium alloy that nearly mimics the properties of natural bone in contrast to conventional titanium alloys that are currently used. This would significantly alleviate many post-surgical complications, which otherwise contributed to implant failure. Currently, the Indian medical sector prevalently uses imported implants for bone repair, which is a cross to bear for an average Indian and a near to impossible luxury for the underprivileged. This material innovation is expected to churn out indigenous porous bone grafts, plates, fixtures, screws, and dental implants, with superior biocompatibility and an affordable price tag.
The second edition of TATA Steel MaterialNEXT had selected 91 research ideas from the total registration of 250 startups and universities after the first level screening, which was further shortlisted to 15 in the second round, followed by onboarding idea-development 2-3 months for selected teams. During this phase, each group received grants and interactive mentorship from Industry specialists from TATA Steel and subject experts from IITs, NITs, and IISc. In the pre-finale, the top 5 teams are shortlisted to demonstrate the prototype and its business feasibility. The finale was juried by Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao (Director at ARCI Hyderabad), Dr. Debashish Bhattacharjee (Vice President at Technology & New Material Business, Tata Steel), and Mr. Ravi Arora (Vice President of Innovation Program, Tata Sons).