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“A salient feature of C-CAMP is the Mentorship Program that provides scientific and business mentoring to nurture start-ups and increase their chances of success,” says Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, Director and COO, C-CAMP

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed is the Director and COO of C-CAMP and heads the Bio-incubation facility as well.  In this role, Dr Saiyed also manages C-CAMP's technology platforms, growth strategies, strategic collaborations for new technology creation, education and training programmes, business and innovation accelerator unit. He also oversees the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office at C-CAMP.
Prior  to  joining  C-CAMP,  he  worked  as  a  Scientist  with  University  of  California,  San Francisco (UCSF), studying neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease. He holds a doctorate in Neuroscience from Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany.

He also served as a Management Consultant with QB3 New Biotech Venture Consulting where he consulted for biotech firms in the US.

In an exclusive interview to enABLE, Dr Taslimarif Saiyed explains the key features of the incubator and provides insights on the relationship between incubators and incubatees. The interview was done by ABLE’s external content contributor, Anusha Ashwin, in Chennai under the guidance of Senior Editorial Consultant to ABLE, Srinivas Rao Chandan. Excerpts of the interview ...

Could you describe the salient features of  C-CAMP BioIncubator?
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), an initiative of Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, is considered one of the most exciting centres for technology-based innovation in India in the field of life sciences. C-CAMP has created and fostered an entrepreneur-friendly culture in and around academic environment through its various activities supporting very early stage ideas to proof-of concept stage and validation studies for commercialization. 
C-CAMP has established and is running a Bio-incubator for the last five years since 2011, which provides start-ups with  state-of-the-art “plug and play” laboratory space and infrastructure, small and large table top instruments, high-end equipment as well as common facilities such as meeting rooms, cafeteria, etc.  Over 15000 sq.ft. of space is dedicated for Bio-incubation.
C-CAMP’s Bio-incubation facility has capabilities to provide incubation to start-ups across the life science spectrum including in Medical Devices & Diagnostics, Drug discovery & Development, Biologics & Vaccines, Bioenergy, Industrial Products & Processes, Agriculture & Nutraceuticals.  
C-CAMP’s Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office assists incubatees with preliminary IP landscaping.
Another salient feature is the Mentorship Program that provides scientific and business mentoring along with workshops and other networking platforms to nurture start-ups and increase their chances of success.
C-CAMP has both resident and Associate incubatees who can avail of these facilities based on their requirements.

What are the equipment and technologies provided for research? 

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: C-CAMP offers a "plug & play" model wherein we provide a fully equipped, dedicated lab space, with small and large table top equipment as well as access to high-end platform technologies and clean rooms/culture rooms as well as basic medtech set-up, which allows the start-up companies to “start the ball rolling” from day one in terms of the research projects. Some of the essential bench-top equipment that C-CAMP provides include water bath, minifuges, vortexes, stir plates etc. Along with the small bench top equipment at hand on the benches, all the start-ups have open access to the present larger equipment in the common laboratory area as well as the large sophisticated equipment in the common equipment rooms. Start-ups needing to perform cell culture experiments also have access to fully equipped tissue culture rooms with BSLII option. Some of the common equipment include fume hood, laminar flow cabinet, dish washers, autoclaves, refrigerators, freezers, shaker incubators, pH meters etc. 

C-CAMP also makes available its established high-end platform technologies as a service to all C-CAMP start-ups. Protein technology facility, Next generation genomics facility, Mass spectrometry facility, Imaging facility & Flow cytometry facility and Microfluidics and Microfabrication Facility are among the high-end platform technologies available. This access is also highly sought after and being on location, it becomes highly beneficial to those start-up companies that require high-end technology platforms to answer their research questions and take their endeavors forward.

How many startups and entrepreneurs can this incubator house? 
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: Depending on individual requirement of lab benches and office space of each incubatee, at a given time C-CAMP’s bio-incubation facility can house up to 15-20 start-ups.
On what basis are the applicants short listed for selection into the incubator? 

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: C-CAMP’s mandate is to promote innovation based start-ups that are working to develop novel technologies in the field of lifesciences and the incubatees are chosen based on below mentioned criteria. 
-Unmet Need
- Novelty and Innovation
- Commercialization Potential
- Team and execution capabilities
- Appropriateness to incubate at C-CAMP 

What kind of R&D does the incubator encourage? 

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: C-CAMP encourages R&D and innovation based companies working in the areas of drug discovery, molecular biology, transgenic model systems, biomaterials, synthetic biology, upstream & downstream processing, medical deviced and diagnostics, agricultural sciences, nutraceuticals etc. 

What is the current status of this BioIncubator? Can the incubator house more start-ups?
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: Ever since C-CAMP’s Bio-incubation facility was operational, we have been running to full capacity. At present, we have 13 resident incubatees. The incubatees are usually there for between 12 to 36 months so availability of space depends on when an incubatee graduates out.  Having said that, we are able to accommodate most start-ups as we have flexible and customized packages.  
What kind of mutual agreement does the Incubator have with the incubatees?
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: The agreement allows the incubatee to use the space, infrastructure and equipment that has been established at C-CAMP. The incubatee companies also have access to other facilities like meeting rooms, lecture halls, cafeteria etc. The incubatees also have the option of being part of mentorship program and all workshops and networking events that C-CAMP holds. 

What is financial assistance provided to its incubatees? Does the Incubator mediate external financial investors to participate? 
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: C-CAMP has partnered with BIRAC, DBT, to help with the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) scheme grant that funds start-up companies and individual scientific entrepreneurs to establish proof-of-concept and transform these innovative ideas into viable competitive products and enterprises.

C-CAMP also regularly holds ‘Investor Meets’ which is a platform for start-ups and investors to explore investment opportunities.

Is there any support from the alumni of the Institute? 

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed: ‘Graduated’ start-ups often come in as Mentors to guide and share their experiences with other start-ups.