The Federation of Asian Biotech Associations (FABA), which has been offering a platform for academy- industry interactions since 2005 and career guidance, and skill development activities as part of FABA Academy from 2020, launched FABA Entrepreneurship division through organisation of Whale Tank event on 18th and 19th August in association with the leading incubation centres in the country.
The purpose of this event was to attract prospective investments in bio- startups in their growth phase and strengthen India’s startup ecosystem. The event received an overwhelming response by the attendees including venture capitalists, pharmaceutical firms, leading incubators, and students. The event witnessed the participation of 200+ audience which included 60 life sciences-based startups, 12 incubation centers, 7 investors and big Pharma and Biopharma industry leaders.
The two-day event witnessed keynote addresses, the panel discussions and fireside chat with successful startups. The startups got a chance to exhibit their technologies/products virtually on both the days. Of these 14 startups were shortlisted to pitch before the investors. The event started with a keynote address on
“The Biotech Startup Ecosystem in India: Opportunities and Challenges in Making a Global Impact” by Dr. Renu Swarup, Former Secretary, Dept. of Biotechnology Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. She explicitly brought the relevance of an event like ‘FABA Whale Tank’ for sustaining the growth of startups by bringing together VCs, incubation centers and industry leaders. She further highlighted the role of startups in linking the academy and industry and driving innovation-led enterprises. Startups are at an ideal position to take the ideas, technologies from academia, validate them and transfer to the industry for commercialization. She concluded the talk by sharing the strategy of connect-converge-collaborate which is the answer to the impactful delivery of startup missions.
The fireside chat with successful startups -Bugworks, String Bio, Pandorum Technologies, Huwel Life Sciences, moderated by Uday Saxena, provided valuable tips for startups, such as how to access international grants at an early stage, the need for start-up teams to include experts in business skills, how to avoid being overly technical when pitching to an investor, how to conduct cold calls and network, and finally, how to explore tie-ups with established Pharma and Biopharma companies for further development and commercialization of their technologies.
Mr. Sanjiv Navangul, MD & CEO, Bharat Serums and Vaccines (BSV) discussed how startups would change biotech’s future. His discussion of how emerging technology would change the biotech industry was both informative and inspiring. He mentioned a few promising new startups that piqued his interest, such as those developing nasal vaccinations against COVID-19 and devices for imaging breast cancer which made him excited. As for the intriguing technologies that are emerging in startups, he added that India is on the cusp of a new era of innovative startup ideas. Furthermore, he mentioned that Bharat Serums and Vaccines (BSV) is working to foster an environment conducive to startups.
Through panel discussions, the event also highlighted problems and potential solutions to sustain the ecosystem of incubators. One of the issues raised during the conference was that of the fundamental changes required at the level of incubators to support the growth phase of the successful startups. Another issue raised was the support system required for start-ups working on human subjects in terms of ethical approvals and linkages with hospitals/clinicians, which is missing in most of the incubation centers. How to teach the incubatees about regulatory aspects, legal documentation aspects, and business skills for start-up advancement represented another difficulty that was addressed. In addition, the panelists informed that the startups could benefit a lot from
the regular events hosted by BIRAC on IP, marketing and regulatory issues. Strengthening the network of incubators and start-ups around the nation was another priority.
One of the main goals of this event was to promote the startup ecosystem in the country in healthcare sector and send a clear message to the start-ups on the importance of the teamwork, collaboration with other sectors, being bold and thinking differently, having strong mentors and addressing the problems with the global agenda in mind.
For more information visit, https://biofaba.org.in/