‘Fo­cus on Long Term Value’

The Economic Times - - Power Of Ideas -

How has the In­dian biotech sec­tor evolved from the days of Bio­con (founded in 1978)? (Those days) the en­tre­pre­neur had to take all the risks. There are now mech­a­nisms through which risks are mit­i­gated in terms of other play­ers col­lab­o­rat­ing—uni­ver­si­ties, biotech parks, etc. Rel­a­tive fund­ing mus­cle is there. It is a bet­ter place now. But it has to go a long way to reach the lev­els of Sil­i­con Val­ley or Bos­ton.

What are your thoughts on the BIG grant? BIG is a great idea. I was a panelist for BIG. It is good be­cause it is a com­plete grant. The bar is quite low; all you need is a good idea. They also match you with part­ner labs. The sys­tem is there. In­stead of spend­ing a lot of money on in­fra­struc­ture, you can spend your money on the ex­per­i­ment. It is a great model for early-stage en­trepreneurs.

Why are Sil­i­con Val­ley and Bos­ton bet­ter than In­dia? We def­i­nitely need more biotech parks around the coun­try… (Also,) we should not ex­pect an en­tre­pre­neur to ful­fil any rev­enue mile­stone in the ini­tial years. BIG should help you po­si­tion your­self for the next step of rev­o­lu­tion. That should be the goal. The en­tre­pre­neur should fo­cus on long-term value. Sec­ond, the ra­tio be­tween grant and loan should be geared to­wards grant than loan. That is what hap­pens in Sil­i­con Val­ley. (In In­dia), it is heav­ily tilted to­ward loans. How is the VC ecosys­tem for biotech in In­dia? Very of­ten, what we hear is from VCs is that they do not come across chal­leng­ing pro­pos­als. They look for ideas that have big im­pli­ca­tions in terms of mar­ket vol­ume. They mostly come across ‘me-too’ com­pa­nies.

What more should be done to boost In­dia’s biotech agenda? Se­ri­ous (col­lab­o­ra­tions) should be made be­tween gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions and pro­fes­sional fi­nanciers, as against the gov­ern­ment say­ing it will raise its own funds and in­vest­ments. Gov­ern­ment can put in some money and VCs can put in the same amount, and this can then be guided by the VCs. Some­thing like that will be very good.

How can big com­pa­nies help? Com­pa­nies can lay out an idea and set mile­stones. If some­one can achieve those mile­stones, if they can bring it up to a stage, (the big com­pa­nies) can en­ter into a part­ner­ship with them to push it fur­ther.

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