Vitalising Life Sciences
Situated in the Bangalore Helix Biotechnology Park, a developing biocluster at Electronic City, Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre’s (BBC) state-of-the-art incubation facilities is a crucial addition to the growing innovation culture of the city.
It is part of an ambitious plan to nurture a biotech ecosystem and was created by the Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS) now called Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS), under the aegis of the Karnataka state government’s Department of IT, BT and S&T. It also receives liberal funds from the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology.
Alongside academic institutions such as the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB), the Centre for Human Genetics (CHG), and a space dedicated to large biotech companies, BBC plays a key role in nurturing startups in life sciences such as Healthcare (MedTech/ Pharma/Bio-Pharma), Agriculture, Food/ Nutrition, Industrial Biotechnology and Environmental Biotechnology.
Dr. Jitendra Kumar, Managing Director, says in this interview with Subhalakshmi Roy, “BBC has been envisioned to be a state-of-the-art bioincubation centre in the country. We aspire to global standards and our role is multifarious.” This includes providing them with the right infrastructure, common equipment facility, mentorship, branding, networking and funding support.
The Central Instrumentation Facility in its 10 acre campus is a national facility which is used by companies from across India, apart from many academic institutions. “I firmly believe that the common equipment facility is a catalysing factor for the creation of a vibrant ecosystem”, says Dr. Kumar.
Establishing an intellectual property regime by helping startups create the right kind of IP framework, helping scientists file the right IPs, and commercialising IPs and patents of public research labs by nurturing startups who could work on these technologies are part of BBC’s plan. Apart from conducting specialised scientific training programmes, BBC holds workshops and training programmes in business development, IPR, Companies Act and Biodiversity Law, and takes incubatees to international conferences.
A high-level committee evaluates the applications from incubatees. “Selection is the key to our success; we do not incubate the contract research services or run-of-the-mill innovations, they have to be technology based and novel innovations”, says Dr. Kumar. A good business model, social impact and the team are other factors that are assessed.
Four companies have graduated from BBC, and the centre is currently incubating 32 companies. While all hold promise, he singles out 10 who have already come up with product prototypes: Indoor Biotech, Next Big Innovations Lab, VNIR, Aindra, Terra Blue, Aprus, Pandorum, Yostra, Atrimed and String Bio.
With its startups on an upward growth spiral, attracting investments and hiring people, BBC is creating more space for them. It is also ramping up the lab facilities to help them build prototypes for pilot scale manufacturing of clinical grade materials and clinical testing.
BBC collaborates with other life sciences incubators such as C-CAMP. “Startups benefit from the co-incubation model, and are free to leverage the best of the complementary ecosystems – C-CAMP in North Bengaluru and BBC in South Bengaluru”, adds Dr. Kumar. BBC is the nodal centre for the Karnataka Startup Advancement Program (K-SAP) BIO 50, an initiative being implemented by C-CAMP with the support of KITS. It is also an implementation partner for Idea2POC, a state government initiative for seed or ignition funding. It also plans to fund startups in lieu of small equity seed funds received from BIRAC.