The Bengaluru-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, also popularly known as C-CAMP, was set up by the Department of Biotechnology in 2009 as an enabler for successful bioscience research and entrepreneurship. In an exclusive freewheeling interview with the BioVoice News, Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, Director and Chief Executive Officer of C-CAMP explained the do’s and don’ts for the startups besides sharing insights on the current trends in Indian startup ecosystem
Please tell our readers about the latest activities at C-CAMP? What has been the long-term vision of the institute?
As you know, since its foundation, the C-CAMP has been known for its activities around innovation, entrepreneurship and seed funding. We have been operating the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) scheme in partnership with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) since last few years, it has enabled technology innovators and entrepreneurs to pursue a promising technology idea, and establish and validate proof of concept for the idea. We later started the incubation space as well. But more recently, we have been able to add seed funding capabilities as well.
One of the latest activities is that C-CAMP has been selection under NITI Aayog program which has given us an arm to run seed fund besides tremendous support we have been able to get due to it. The NITI Aayog support has helped us to expand incubation space and do lot of other activities. It has expanded the room for funding per say. It is the huge addition we have.
At the same time, BIRAC has been able to given us an equity model program, The Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) that will support 8-10 life sciences startups for its first batch with funding allocation upto Rs 30 lakhs. We have now also partnered with the Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). This allows C-CAMP to do the early stage seed funding.
Our strength is that we are driven by technology based startups. Idea is to identify the technologies that are early stage and possibly support them. So, our role lies in funding, incubation and mentoring. We are building our capacity in all the three areas. Having more of seed funding allows more opportunities to support such technologies. Because we believe that more you fund risky ideas, the larger the pool and thus more impact.
As a part of Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster, we have been collaborating with many other institutions. The National Centre for Biological Sciences and In-Stem are in our close vicinity and we have also partnered with GKVK, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore which is an agriculture university. Since we share the same campus, it makes sense for us to collaborate. They have the expertise in agriculture and we have know-how in innovation and technology. They understand agriculture and we have capacity to find solutions. Our long term vision of course is to create an ecosystem for startups to do innovative research and entrepreneurship.
Which is the most critical area where startups struggle and what is the role of C-CAMP there?
As soon the technology driven startups finish their R&D and are ready with the prototype, then starts the business part. This is the area where startups struggle. Our job is to add capabilities here. We ask few basic questions to startups including who is their customer, market definition and market strategy besides the kind of competition their product would have. These are very crisp, straight questions that they may not answer right there but idea is to get them go back and make them to do their homework and tell us why did they do it. It helps them to sharpen the idea.
Let me give an example. If there is a startup that has a medical device product, they should know the right place to sell. They should be aware that it is the wholesale dealers who will be creating market for them and not directly the hospitals. If the startups aren’t aware of it, they won’t be able to sell it. The market understanding for startups is necessary part of success. This what we have started providing right here at CCAMP.
“As soon the technology driven startups finish their R&D and are ready with the prototype, then starts the business part. This is the area where startups struggle”