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Fibsol Life Tech from Chennai wins first National Biotech Entrepreneurship contest

Dr Kavitha Sairam led Fibsol Life Technologies, incubated at the Bioincubator of IIT-Chennai won the first prize in the National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition, organized in Bangalore on December 16, 2017 by BIRAC. The prize was for the company’s nanofiber based innovative plant growth promoter for crops. The  Rs 10 lakh prized was sponsored by Ankur Seeds

By Narayanan Suresh

Bangalore, 16 December 2017: The first National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition, announced by the Biotechnology Industry Research and Assistance Council (BIRAC) in mid-August concluded on December 16, 2017 with the announcement of winners. The winners were selected by jury headed by Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Honorary Chairman of ABLE and CMD of Biocon.  The competition was anchored by the Center for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) of Bangalore.

Dr Harpreet Singh of iNICU Medical Pvt Ltd won the Amazon Web Services  of AWS credits for $15,000 ( Rs 10 lakh) for an integrated data console used in special ICUs for newborns. Ms  Kristin K. of Saathi EcoInnovations India, the Pfizer award of Rs 3 lakh for a banana fiber based environment friendly female hygiene product and finally, Mr Mohit  Chelani of Cleanlife Products received a special recognition from the Grand Jury for an interesting waste management solution. Fibsol’s Dr Kavitha also qualified for an investment opportunity from Social Alpha, a innovation promotion organization of the Tata Group.

The competition that was launched in August had about 1,500 entries and a short list of 150 entries made their presentations to jury members at regional rounds held in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Top 39 innovators attended a workshop in Bangalore on various aspects of entrepreneurship prior to the grand finale on December 15.

The prizes were given away by Dr Mazumdar-Shaw, Mr Gaurav Dasgupta, Principal Secretary, IT-BT of Government of Karnataka and representatives of sponsors Pfizer and Ankur Seeds.

The Grand jury consisted of distinguished clinicians, scientists, public figures and dignitaries including Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon, Dr. Vijay Chandru, Chairman, Managing Director and Co-founder, Strand Life Sciences, Mr. Nitin Deshmukh, CEO and Founding Member, Kotak Private Equity, Dr. Gopala Krishna Dasika, Senior Vice President and Head, Pfizer Biologics Development Center, Mr. Ashwin Raguraman, Co-founder and Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund, Dr. Ashwin Kashikar, General Manager (Research), Ankur Seeds Pvt. Ltd., Ms. Deepthi Reddy, Head Investments & Governance, Social Alpha, Ms. Prachi Sinha, Head, Healthcare Investments, Research and Partnerships, Axilor and Dr. Taslimarif Saiyed, CEO and Director, C-CAMP. Finalists were judged on the novelty, business sustainability, and societal impact of their ideas.

Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw while sharing her thoughts with the finalists, said: "Quality and compliance needs are very important for Life-Tech innovations. There are no shortcuts. Everything with respect to product development should go through rigorous document controls; because it deals with human life, human contact whether it be sanitary napkins, or life-saving technology in ICUs. I wish you all the best for scaling up and making a difference in the global economy through your products." She urged the innovators to think big and aim for the global markets with high quality products.

Mr. Gaurav Gupta said "Bengaluru, Karnataka has a very unique ecosystem. We in the Government of Karnataka are supporting initiatives like the National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition through investments in infrastructure, policy and funding." He also invited the startups to set up their business in Karnataka.

Dr. Vijay Chandru mentioned that the startup ecosystem has evolved a lot over the last eight-nine years, from boot camps for students to the phenomenal progress that has been made today where startups from all over India are setting up businesses across domains. He said “In today’s presentations a lot of ground has been covered by the startups who are focusing on sustainability, healthcare, agriculture and societal impact.” He was of the opinion that all the finalist startups would receive funding but it was also important for them to choose the right investor.