not be transformed for social and economic development without an early-stage scheme like BIG,” M K Bhan, who was helming DBT when BIG was conceptualized, was quoted as saying in a BIRAC report titled ‘BIGKick Starting Entrepreneurship-1st BIG Report-2015.’ “BIG was designed as a ‘neighbourhood scheme’—running the schemes at multiple places such that money goes with mentorship. Mentorship is fundamental to this scheme.”
While Rs 50 lakh might seem like a small sum, it is the mentoring and the connections that BIG facilitates that matter more. “The projects are monitored by a technical high-power committee that has the best scientists in India,” said Arun Chandru, chief executive of Pandorum Technologies, a Bengaluru-based human tissue engineering startup that was among the first recipients of the Biotechnology Ignition Grant. The company has also raised money from Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. The mentors include eminent scientists and industry experts such as Ravikumar Banda, managing director of molecular biology firm Xcyton Diagnostics, and Rohit Srivastava, professor at IIT-Bombay. Applicants have immensely gained from this mix of backgrounds.
Adak recalls when she was planning for a general-purpose platform instead of a focused product. “I went into it a little naively, ‘do you think you can fund it?’ I then went to Venture Centre (a partner agency for BIG), ‘can you help me with it?’ What is technically flawed, what do I need to change? They gave a lot of advice. I was pitching it as a general platform. They said you need to pick a disease. I