Quoted “The Hidden Jewel” by Utkarsh Palnitkar, ex KPMG Life Science Specialist, his maiden after a visit to ASPIRE-BioNEST, So impressed with the BioNEST, he agrees with the author who tossed word “Plug-and-Play Life Science Incubator that is Unique and Diverse” that recently inducted into the entrepreneurial nurturing activity of the existing incubators on the campus University of Hyderabad (UoH).
“The Best BioNEST” enthusiastically and passionately commented by Professor Padmanaban, G, an eminent life scientist from Indian Institute of Science and the Senior Advisor, Science and Technology, BIRAC during the inaugural and just after 1st anniversary of BioNEST at UoH, gives a boost to the enthusiasm of nurturing scaling technologies in life sciences in the Hyderabad region.
With over 40-academic units consistently performing to achieve academic excellence for over 40 years, UoH is envisaging on its lateral vision in creating, nurturing, and promoting entrepreneurship culture, thus with the support and encouragement of GOI,lead to initiation of translational research culture aimed largely for the societal benefits torealize in faster time scales.
During November, 2017, the BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council), a section-8 not-for-profit company initiative by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) granted UoH to establish Bioincubators Nurturing Entrepreneurship and Scaling Technologies (BioNEST), a flagship project that encourages start-ups developing scaling technologies in life sciences.
UoH together with knowledge-based expertise and its entrepreneurial expertise and BIRAC with its vision and support,co-jointly created BioNEST with a“plug-and-play”ecosystem that facilitates start-up innovators and entrepreneurs in developing and scaling technologies that are commercializble in life sciences domain. Simply put, figure-2 brings BioNEST at UoH into existence with a collaborative effort, with about a size of 20000 sqft size, located on the 3rd floor of the School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad.
The University of Hyderabad thus provides a fully furnished physical infrastructure of research laboratories, while the BIRAC gave itemized budget-head grant for equipment, furnishing, renovation with operational expenditure (recurring grant) that sustains for next five years. The culmination of such ideological thoughts of academic excellent of the UoH and the entrepreneurial development of BIRAC made the inception of a BioNEST, the bioincubator in Life Sciences at the UoH made feasible.
Physical Infrastructure @ ASPIRE-BioNEST:
The University of Hyderabad has provided state-of-the-art physical infrastructure of about 20000 SFT, comprising of (a) A 10000SFT divided into 30 labs of 12-each of 250 and 350SFT, and 6 labs of 450SFT denominations (b) A 1000 SFT co-working space for early stage entrepreneurs with ideation stage, (c) another 1000 SFT for common instrument facility, and (d) 1000SFT of common research labs of animal and microbial cell-culture facilities, common wash area for autoclaving, and (e) 1000 SFT of office space, meeting rooms. A widespread 10-feet corridor provides enough flexibility for personnel to move around. All labs are well equipped with lab-benches fully furnished with electrical, water and centralised air conditioning systems. The common instrumentation facility is well equipped with basic infrastructure required in the areas of biology and biotechnology. These range from small instruments like pH meters, weighing balances, shakers, gel-docs etc. to large instruments like HPLCs, laminar flows, microscopes, incubators (CO2 and BoD).
Coinciding with the National Science Day, the BioNEST at the University of Hyderabad facility was inaugurated on February, 28, 2018, and commissioned for conducting full-fledged operations from June, 2018 onwards. The facility is fully equipped with safety measures such as fire-alarm systems and 24/7 monitored central video surveillance system. instrumentation installed at the ASPIRE-BioNEST is freely accessible to the incubatees 24×7. Together with the established ready-to-work infrastructure and with internationally acclaimed knowledge expertise of the faculty, the BioNEST at UoH brings an unparalleled vibrant “plug-and-play” life sciences incubator environment ecosystem for the startups.
The ASPIRE-BioNEST incubation center provides unique ecosystem, in that it is located within the School of Life Sciences which is one of the largest schools with 65 faculty members working in diverse cutting edge areas of biology and biotechnology with more than 300 PG students, 350 PhD scholars and 60+ post docs and state of the art infrastructure in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, imaging technologies and bioinformatics facilities, which are accessible to the incubatees. Also the incubatees can have access to one of the largest digital libraries in the country, Central Instrumentation Laboratories (CIL), Center for Molecular Simulation and Design (CMSD). Thus the UoH BioNEST incubation center provides ideal environment for the startup companies in life science sectors unparallel to any in the country.
Functional and Incubation Advisory for ASPIRE-BioNEST:
The board-of-advisory that provides direction to the ASPIRE-BioNEST consists of eminent scientists, visionaries and successful businessmen in entrepreneurship. Keeping in mind its genesis, the interest of entrepreneurial vertical of UoH, the advisory board decided that (a) it shouldn’t be following any real-estate incubator model, and (b) it should be knowledge-driven with diversity and uniqueness. The board decided that the vision and mission of ASPIRE-BioNESTat UoHshall beaimed at translating inventive ideas to innovative R&D, technologies, or products with commercializble intellectual properties and platforms in Life Sciences including areas of Agriculture, Biotechnology, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Information Technology, and allied areas. The project-appraisal committee (PAC) comprising of key faculty of the School of Life Sciences and external members with proven scientific, business, venture capital, and subject matter eminence,meets periodically to identify, evaluate, and select startups that have synergistic researchinterests aligned withthe vision and mission of ASPIRE-BioNEST.
So far, the advisory governance with the stringent selection criteria imposed, ASPIRE-BioNEST maintains a one-in-three selection ratio for startups for incubation space. The two-step evaluation process brings quality incubatees to the bio-incubator.
Business Models for Self-sustenance of ASPIRE-BioNEST:
BIRAC funds every BioNEST to survive on during funding period, and expects the host organization and the BioNEST to support the idea of nurturing innovations for long even after post-funding scenario. To accomplish this vision, the ASPIRE-BioNEST visions a self-sustenance model of the incubator, and practiced accordingly. The business model of self-sustenance is to create a corpus for the first few years during the funding-period through incubation, CSR, and other methods of revenue generation, and utilize that as the base to self-sustain post-funding scenario.
The ASPIRE-BioNEST offers two models for prospective incubatees, with equity and without equity and accordingly, the license-fee is being charged. The license fee is collected on a monthly basis – which was arrived after brainstorming of members of advisory committee keeping in mind the overall burn rate of the incubation center with no discomfort to the incubatees.
Incubatees with Key face-changing Technologies and MoUs:
At ASPIRE-BioNEST, incubatees conducting cutting edge research range from Agriculture to Pharmaceuticals, are seriously building new technologies/platforms that are scalable, translatable, and commercializble. Within a short period of its existence, the ASPIRE-BioNEST incubation center has incubated following companies focusing on divergent areas of Life Sciences. The entrepreneurs conducting the above research are acclaimed scientists from across the globe with excellent academic and broad therapeutic expertise from industry, as given in the table below.
# Name of the Company SQFT # Emp Thrust/Focus Research Area
1 Albus Eco Projects Pvt. Ltd. 350 2 Industrial Biocatalysts
2 Avyantra Health Tech. Pvt. Ltd. BS 2 Healthcare
3 Reagene Biosciences Pvt. Ltd. 250 4 Alternatives to In vivo
4 Vectrogen Biologics Pvt. Ltd. 250 4 Cosmetics and Neutraceuticals
5 SriBio Aesthetics Pvt. Ltd. 350 4 Nanomicrobiome based works
6 OncoSeek Pvt. Ltd. 250 3 Oncology and diagnostics
7 Therazymes Pvt. Ltd. 700 4 Industrial Bio enzymes
8 Sasyaved LLC. 250 2 Hydroponics
9 Srilatha Bio Pvt. Ltd. 250 3 Healthcare
10 Algen Bio Pvt. Ltd. 250 2 Industrial production of metabolites
11 Novick Bio Pvt. Ltd. 350 2 Drug Discovery in Oncology
12 ACGE India Pvt. Ltd 350 2 IVF technologies in animal biology
13 Terra Scientific Pvt. Ltd. 700 4 Metabolites, Enzyme Catalysts
14 VINS BioPharma Pvt. Ltd. 350 2 Snake Venom
15 Panaceja Biopharma Pvt. Ltd. BS 1 Plant-based biotechnology
16 PhoSynFuels LLC BS 1 BioOils and BioFuels
17 Innovaccel Pvt. Ltd. 450 2 Healthcare and R&D
ASPIRE-BioNEST made several MoUs with organizations which not only interacts with the incubatees but also facilitate industry-academia interactions with the faculty in the School of Life Sciences such as Tech-Mahindra, Vajra Soft Inc., Startup Accelerator India, and Bio-RxVenture Advisers. This incubation center conducts conferences and workshops related to business, corporate, entrepreneurship, financial, intellectual, lateral-technical, legal, technical, and allied aspects as part of entrepreneurial development, and also provide Mentors-On-Need to the incubatees in the above areas.
ASPIRE-BioNEST incubation center thus provides an ideal infrastructure and supporting system enabling startup companies to establish and succeed in their ventures. Interested startups may contact all around the year in the office of BioNEST UoH.
By Sreedhar R Voleti, CEO, ASPIRE-BioNEST
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