Two BIG Days. One BIG Conclave

BIG Conclave 2018, one of the largest annual congregation of India’s emerging biotech start-ups, leading mentors, investors, and industry experts, was held on 27-28 July 2018 at Venture Center in Pune. The BIRAC BIG Conclave proved to be a great success by all accounts. Below, we summarize the main takeaways from the event.

For photos of the event, please click here. Below are some major takeaways from the 4th BIG Conclave:

Day 1, July 27th 2018, morning session: The innovative and new concept of R-Clinics and M-Clinics were a great way to kick-off the BIG Conclave. The M-Clinic was conducted as a one-on-one mentoring of candidates covering multiple topics including raising money, pitching, design for manufacturing etc. For the R-Clinic, Venture Center was delighted to have regulatory experts Shyamni Sasidharan and Prasad Kulkarni interact with the entrepreneurs.

Dr. V. Premnath welcomed the gathering on behalf of Venture Center and BIRAC as co-organizers of the event. He highlighted the uniqueness and strength of the Conclave as a platform to share skills and experiences, pick up great ideas, develop professional links and keep up-to-date with the latest in the biotech innovation scene in India. Watch Dr. Premnath’s video here.

Dr. Manish Diwan, Head, SPED, BIRAC then talked about the implementation of the BIG program and the impact that it has had in shaping India’s biotech innovation ecosystem. In a conversation with Venture Center, Dr. Manish emphasized the importance of looking ahead, and summarized the road ahead to put India’s innovations on the global map. Watch Dr. Manish Diwan’s Interview here. 

Dr. Mohd Aslam, MD – BIRAC, could not attend the conclave, he addressed the gathering via a videographic clip.

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT, GoI then took the stage to deliver her inaugural address. Among the many pertinent points covered in her speech, here are some highlights:

(1) Innovations need to be scientifically sound, scalable and sustainable.
(2) Incubators need to step out of their comfort zone and reach out to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities
(3) Government is open to feedback from everyone in the ecosystem and BIG started as an experiment based on feedback that was received from this ecosystem.
(4) Intense academia industry interaction is needed for translating academic research into industry or entrepreneurial ventures.

In an interview at the BIG Conclave, Dr. Renu Swarup talked about the much needed regulatory facilitation center that will act as a single window to connect entrepreneurs and startups to regulatory experts to help them scale more rapidly. See Dr. Renu Swarup’s video hereInformation on BIRAC’s regulatory hub can be found here.

After the inaugural session, it was time for the much awaited highlight of the conclave was the startup showcase session and mentor mixer event, a great platform for the entrepreneurs to showcase the core idea of their product to their peers, mentors, and investors, and senior entrepreneurs, and get their feedback to help them improve their product.

Day 1: July 27th 2018, afternoon session: Later in the afternoon, the event switched gears. The post-lunch session saw Srikant Sastri, co-founder of Crayon Data and seasoned entrepreneur, engage in a panel discussion with established first generation entrepreneurs: Sunil Bhaskaran, MD, Indus Biotech, Dr. Chandrasekharan Nair, Founder, Bigtec Labs, and Dr. Deepa Bhajekar. From creating opportunity from very little to remaining strong in some of the most difficult situations, these entrepreneurs shared their inspiring stories of scientific entrepreneurship. One key message that stood out was the importance of family support in the lonely journey of entrepreneurship, and how to ensure the financial security of your family.

When we spoke to the other BIG partners, and a few of the speakers and investors at the event, they all unequivocally appreciated the role of government funding in supporting risky biotechnology ideas that find it hard to raise private investment. Another common theme that was evident at the conclave was the need to build products and technology not just for India but for the world.  that can compete at the global scale. Among other things, have a look at what the many stakeholders in the biotech startup community feel about India growing into a product economy, the challenges, and finally their experience at the conclave:

Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CEO – IKP Knowledge Park
Dr. Mrutyunjay Suar, CEO of KIIT TBI
Taslimarif Saiyed, CEO and Director – C-CAMP
Sunil Bhaskaran, Managing Director and Director, Indus Biotech
Chandrasekhar Nair, Director – Bigtec Private Limited
Dr. Deepa Bhajekar, Director – D Technology
Arpit Agarwal, Principal – Blume Ventures
Avinash Shejale, Director- Lifesciences at Ainvent Capital

In the last session of Day 1, we had great interactive sessions on pitching, scaling up, and challenges of medical device innovation.  Through many examples and case studies, Prof. B Ravi Institute Chair Professor, IIT Bombay, shared his practical insights in medical device innovation.Dr. Satya Dash, Director Impact Lab at PATH shared his insights on scaling medtech startups through case studies. The key takeaway from his session was that if you want to scale up, you need partnerships to bridge the gap in late stage health innovation, and push prototypes to have the maximum impact they can have. The day ended on a very interactive note with Srikant Sastri sharing tips and pointers to help the participants do a better job of telling their  business story, and building a business.

We caught up with Srikant Sastri, Dr. Dash, and Prof. B Ravi to hear their thoughts on the challenges and emerging trends in the biotech startup story. Check out their insights here:

Dr. Satya Dash, Director Impact Lab at PATH; Video 2: History of the Biotechnology Ignition Grant
Prof. Ravi Bhallamudi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Srikant Sastri, Entrepreneur, Evangelizer, Angel Investor & Mentor

Day 2: July 28th 2018
The networking and discussions continued on day 2, with theme-based peer-to-peer sessions with senior BIG Grantees on a variety of topics. The first session was categorized on the stage of the startup: 1) landing an investment, 2) getting regulatory approvals and 3) setting up a manufacturing facility and getting to profitability.  The second session was categorized into three tracks according to the domain area, namely 1) medical devices, 2) diagnostics and biopharma and 3) agri and industrial biotech.

It goes without saying that the success of any event is dependent wholly on the attendees. Without them, there would have been no conclave, and it was our pleasure to host over 100 of India’s emerging biotech startups and entrepreneurs. Here’s a look at some of the exciting work that’s being carried out:

BeAble Health 
BioPrime Agrisolutions
Vivira Technologies
Ameliorate Biotech
WeInnovate Biosolutions
Solitarius Biologicals
Dr. Shaon Raychaudhuri
Genzir Technologies
REVY Environmental Solutions 

We would also like to thank our sponsors – Operon Strategist and Perkin Elmer – for supporting the event. Finally, a lot of hard work went into making the BIG Conclave 2018 go smoothly. Venture Center would like to thank all the organizers who did an excellent job in making it happen.

We now look forward to the conclave next year! For photos of the event, please click here

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