May 5, 2021

India’s vaccine procurement policy: recovering from COVID-19

Sam Steers
3 min
Courtesy of Getty Images
As India battles with a severe rise in Coronavirus cases, how can the country’s vaccine procurement policy help it to recover...

India recently entered another wave of COVID-19 which saw it become the second most-affected country in the world.

In the 24-hour period leading up to last Wednesday, the Indian government recorded a record-high of 382,315 cases and 3,780 deaths resulting in a total of 20mn cases across the country. 

This sparked criticism from the public who claimed the government had been “too slow” in ordering vaccine doses. 

The Head of the Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, fled the country after claiming that he had received threats from people needing the vaccine, resulting in India’s vaccine procurement policy coming under scrutiny. 

Currently, the Indian government is using the Astrazeneca vaccine, produced by the SII, and Covaxin, made by the Indian firm Bharat Biotech, in its battle against the virus.  

The Indian government has said that support from other Indian states allowed the vaccine procurement policy to be finalised and implemented. 

Harsh Vardhan, Health and Family Welfare Minister for the Indian government stressed the importance of reacting quickly and providing support.

“In any battle, time is of the greatest essence. While the dreaded disease is spreading like a tsunami, it was critical to ease the controls and allow a free hand to the state governments as well as the private sector,” he said. 

Criticism of the Indian government continued when an Indian media report claimed that it had placed any recent orders, which the government denied. 

One solution to the problem allowing the country to recover from the crisis, as suggested by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was to “speed up vaccine production.”

Mr. Poonawalla said that achieving this “would not be easy” and that vaccine shortages could continue for “tow to three months.”

Meanwhile, Professor Indranil Mukhopadhyay of O.P. Jindal Global said trying to manage the procurement and the policy itself is a worry.

“It's going to be extremely difficult for poorer states to manage procurement and that is one concern…

“There is going to be a lot of chaos,” she said. 

Editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, Professor Amar Jesani said that the vaccine procurement policy was “too complicated,” advising that the government should have used its National Universal Immunisation Programme (NUIP). 

The NUIP allows the government to procure and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. 

Mr. Poonawalla also pointed out that “the population of India is huge” and that “even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling.”

Some people, however, are hopeful that recovery from the COVD-19 crisis is still possible. 

Ms Shobana Kamineni, Vice Chairman of Apollo Hospitals, said: “With all gates open for public and private participation, the vaccine will take at least two months to make it a reality at scale.”

However, she added that the vaccine had “moved into a realm of hope.”

Kamineni explains that the key is for India to vaccinate at least 20% of its population stating that, following this, a full recovery will start to become a possibility. 

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Jun 7, 2021

Coupa Launches US$50 Million Ventures Fund

3 min
Business spend management (BSM) is coming back ─ and with its return, Coupa intends to invest in the future of its supply chain operation

Operational resilience and agility. Following the events of the last twelve months, companies have focused on these strategic areas like never before. Some, as we’ve noted, have started to wonder whether this trend will continue post-pandemic—or will we go back to the same old supply chain? Not if Coupa Software has its way. 


Last week, the company launched Coupa Ventures, a global fund that will invest US$50mn in early- and growth-stage companies that target business spend inefficiencies. “Coupa Ventures enables us to invest in a future where businesses and their suppliers can harness the power of their spend to constantly adapt, transform, and innovate”, said Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa’s Chairman and CEO. 


What’s Business Spend Management (BSM)? 

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound particularly sexy—it sounds like a subsection of the finance department. But business spend management, together with ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and HCM (human capital management) make up the core operating process of any company out there. When companies spend money, sign contracts, analyse supplier costs, take inventory or budget for the future, that’s BSM. Overall, business spend management is made up of three main areas: procuring materials, managing invoice, and handling expenses. Essentially, it’s the engine of the entire operation. 


Why Change It Up? 

According to Coupa, the next wave of BSM is now. It wasn’t always this way: in March of 2016, advisory giant Gartner claimed that BSM was dead. At that time, the firm was partly right. Companies couldn’t handle trillions of bits of data by themselves—and they were sinking as the waves of big data swept over their heads. 


But recent developments have meant that BSM isn’t fated to die just yet. “The key to optimisation is data—and not just any data”, Coupa stated. The company has supported community intelligence, in which machine learning uses anonymised data from hundreds or thousands of client companies to suggest better spend tactics. This way, companies can get better insight into their suppliers, track supply chain disruptions, and investigate procurement alternatives. 


This network effect is part of what makes Coupa Ventures so exciting. Said Eric Christopher, co-founder and CEO of Zylo, “We’re excited to join an expansive ecosystem of customers, suppliers, and partners”. 



First Companies in the Ventures Portfolio 


  • Zylo, a leading SaaS management platform that helps companies manage cloud-based applications, offers visibility into what software is being used, how much is present, and how a company can optimise its software investments. 


  • SourceDay, a leading supply chain performance solution, bridges the gap between a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and its supply chain network. 



At SourceDay, Coupa’s investment is heralded as a chance for the company to really take off. “The investment from Coupa Ventures will...enable our joint customers to save money and leverage supplier performance as a competitive edge”, said Tom Kieley, SourceDay CEO. “We’re honoured to expand our relationship with the Coupa ecosystem”. 


Looking ahead, Coupa will capitalise on community intelligence to help its partners make smarter spending decisions. “[Organisations will] place bets on which investments will quickly pay off to accelerate their growth and resilience in the post-pandemic economy”, said J.J. Freitag, senior vice president of Corporate Development at Coupa. “[And] we’re looking to back the best ideas across Europe and beyond to help businesses build back even stronger”. 


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