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Med-Ness: At the Frontier of Medicine, Healthcare and Pharma Business

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This weekly blog will bring the major pharmaceutical and healthcare highlights. We all hate to move from blog to blog, post-to-post and website-to-website. Here, at Med-Ness we understand and value our reader’s time. Along with the major highlights, I will give you my opinion and my take for the week. 

     Med-Ness is for you if you are:

  • An inquisitive scientist and want to stay abreast in all the fields
  • Money minded and want to know business aspect
  • Medical Writer
  • Healthcare consultant

We will also focus on different sections each week. For example, next week will be the post-dated (or should I say, post-week?) section discussing the most coveted healthcare conference- JP Morgan 2017 (#JPM17)! Seriously, what is the fuss about this year’s conference? Never have I ever seen such hysteria about any conference! I hope one day my blog creates such a frenzy in the pharmaceutical field.

I will also brief you about the changing healthcare stocks and other market trends.

And how can I forget about political aspects? Did anybody say Trump’s take on Pharma industry? Where there is money, there is a political agenda. That is completely my take. Finally, I will bring in forefront any new policies or regulatory aspects that might or can affect the pharmaceutical business.

 

CNNMoney ranked healthcare stocks on number 2 position on their list, “5 stocks to buy in 2017”

So lets start with the simple and most commonly seen noun, “stock”. The dictionary spells out a very straightforward definition except; there is nothing simple about stocks. Moving on, stock is the capital that can be raised by any business firm when they issue and provide subscriptions for their shares. It basically defines and provides ownership rights to a company. So let’s say, you decide to buy stocks of a pharmaceutical company. With this stock you bought or rather own that part or percentage of the company. If the company makes profit or its net worth increases, so does the value of the stock increases. A Stock market aka equity market or share market enables such buying or selling of stocks.

  • Have you ever wondered about stocks, investments and equity research?
  • Have you ever thought of investing in healthcare market shares?
  • Have you ever felt speechless in the presence of colleagues talking about market forecast?

The most important question to ask is what determines the trends in stock market? Why should or why shouldn’t you buy a particular stock. The key to this question lies in research known as “equity research”. Equity Research involves analysis and forecast of company’s financials. The whole agenda behind such an exploration is to recommend a particular stock to buy or sell.

“Money has transformed every watchdog, every independent authority. Medical doctors are increasingly gulled by the lobbying of pharmaceutical salesmen”

– Thomas Frank

If you want to follow a particular stock market yourself, you will have to observe and understand the stocks in order to predict their future worth. This might take weeks or even months. All you need to keep is patience! In addition, if you are an amateur in healthcare stocks, you might have to consider previous historical trends to determine the worth of a particular stock. To learn more about stock market, I recommend you all two insightful articles published Forbes.

www.forbes.com/sites/…/01/…/10-things-you-absolutely-need-to-know-about-stocks

www.forbes.com/…/how-to-spot-the-stock-markets-trend-before-it-is-obvious-to-all/

The variability in the stock market due to drug introduction or rejection.

A pharmaceutical company invests in the drug much before it is available to the patients. The drug stays in the pipeline stage for years. The reason- it has to pass all the safety tests before it reaches the patient. Now, the success or failure of the drug’s safety or its use will determine the worth of its stock. Sometimes, small biotech start-ups or pharmaceutical giants announce the research of a particular drug against a disease or condition. The requirement and the need for that research will determine its initial stock worth and successful launch of the drug and Phase IV post-marketing analysis will determine the rise or fall of the stock. According to “Investopedia”, orphan drugs (drugs for the treatment of rare diseases or conditions) are most expensive drugs in the USA. Such drugs will often bring more revenue and hence increased stock value.

The information on new drug launches could be obtained from company’s website or from The Wall Street Journal or from Businessweek. You can also keep a check on the drugs entering clinical trials (clinicaltrials.gov) to follow drugs from the company.

With this, we wrap up our very first post on Med-Ness. Let the medicine and business madness continue. Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imit pursued her Ph.D. from the University of Utah, and is currently pursuing her Postdoctoral fellowship at the Albert Einstein Medical College in Bronx, NY. She has an expertise in preclinical drug development and regulatory protocol development and analytical chemistry focussed on Oncology. Her current work explores the signaling pathways involved in hematopoiesis and leukemia stem cells. She is passionate about medical and science communication.

NASDAQ Image Source:

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/bfishadow/3100369536/

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Entrepreneurship and IP Part III: Trade secrets

in Sci-IP/SciBiz by

Tradesecret blog_final_Lipika

Trade secret can be of any commercially valuable information that gives your business a competitive advantage as it is not known to your competitor or public. It could be a formula, physical device, survey method, idea, recipe (e.g., recipe for Coca-Cola), business plan, pattern, advertising or sales strategy, distribution method, document tracking process, consumer profile, manufacturing process or a little tweak involved in the process, computer algorithm (e.g. Google’s search engine), compilation of information (customer list, suppliers list etc.), financial information, that helps the owner gain a competitive advantage in market place.

Trade secret may have a combination of information available in public domain and information unique to the company. And compilation of such information provides a significant advantage to the owner.

How to protect trade secret?

Typically speaking, for trade secret protection, no registration or no government grant is required. You simply need to maintain secrecy of the information. However, few countries (e.g., US & EU) have formal legislation for trade secret registration. World Trade Organization (WTO) recognizes protection of trade secrets. Member states of WTO and counties that are party to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual-Property Rights (TRIPS) are obliged to provide trade secret protection. Protection lasts as long as the information is kept confidential. Simply saying information as trade secret will not help, you need to take substantial and reasonable measure to keep the information confidential. Once the information is made available to public or if someone discovers from an independent source, the trade secret protection ends.

Challenges of start-ups:

Trade secret policies differ greatly in an established company and in early stage start-ups. Many start- ups and SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) exclusively use trade secret to protect their Intellectual Property (IP). Start-ups have challenges in terms of space – many of them operate from incubation centre, accelerator, shared office space etc. However, they should have some policy documents for trade secret identification and protection. Start-ups should at least address the following:

1) Identifying your Trade secret

Every business has some set of information that can be categorized as trade secret.  First, you should identify such information. Take a through look of your company’s asset. It would be very difficult to prove later that a particular category of information is trade secret if you do not have a hard copy document or electronic format stating the same.

2) Maintenance of Trade secret

Once you have identified your trade secrets, you need to set up policies and procedures to protect them. Trade secrets are considered as the most valuable asset for start-ups. You can consider the following measures to protect your trade secret:

  • Signing non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with your third party development partners and manufacturers. NDA is a contractual agreement between you and the recipient of the information.
  • Signing trade secret assignment with employees, independent contractors and consultants. Writing them down makes it clear to the employee and others that these set of information are trade secrets & they should take effort to keep confidential.
  • Marking documents as confidential, password protection, limiting distribution of password & access to priority documents.
  • Locking important folders and listing who can access the information.
  • Reporting periodic status of the trade secret information. During the process of growth & operation some information might lose the status of trade secret e.g., product launch, patent filing etc. Regular auditing of information is required for appropriate maintenance of trade secrets.
  • Marking emails, attachments etc. as trade secret/private/confidential, specific guidelines for document sharing provision and email usage.
  • Having physical security, locks and limited access to the area/systems having confidential information.
  • You must have clear policies as how you handle visitors coming into your space. Your employees should know what information can/cannot be shared, and also not accessing confidential documents/ keeping off desk in the vicinity when the visitors are around. As the company grows, the policies and procedures expand and will become more robust.

3) Patents or trade secret

For start- ups, filing patents may be too expensive but the technology may be entitled for patent protection. In some cases, you can choose ‘trade secret’ as an alternate mode of protection. Furthermore, patent law requires complete disclosure of your invention in patent application in return for obtaining a 20 year monopoly. Some information/technology that you have developed might be of high value but not appropriate for patent protection. And you may also lose trade secret rights for such information by public disclosure in the process of patent filing. In addition, it might just be a gift to your competitor, as the information could easily be available to them.

If the trade secret is about an innovative product, others may reverse engineer and then entitled to manufacture and use the product. You need to know that, unlike patent law, trade secret does not protect against independent discovery of the information. The decision of keeping information as trade secret or filing a patent depends on technology, valuation, business consideration and evaluation of relative benefits of patent and trade secret.

4)  Employee awareness about trade secrets

Notify your employees about the category of information that are trade secret and routinely remind them.

Your trade secret policy should start to roll on immediately, when an employee comes on board and remain until she/he leaves the company. Employees coming on board can also ‘contaminate’ trade secret information from earlier employer(s), that should not happen. When employees leave, remind them about the non-disclosure documents they had signed and ensure that critical information do not leave with them. It is their duty to maintain the confidentiality of trade secret information of the employer for specified period of time (as mentioned in the trade secret agreement) even after their employment.

5) Trade secrets and misappropriation

When a trade secret is leaked out, unauthorized use of such information by persons/competitors/third parties other than the owner is regarded as an unfair practice and violation of the trade secret. In case of misappropriation, you need to show by record to substantiate, that the said piece of information is trade secret and you took adequate measure to protect the information.

The court will look into following while establishing misappropriation of trade secrets,

  • The information was confidential to company.
  • The information was of commercial value, and use of such information in an improper way results in financial damage to the company.
  • Company took reasonable efforts to keep the information as secret through agreements, trade secret policy and procedures.

Conclusion:

Trade secret is considered as one of the important form of Intellectual Property rights protection for start-ups. Value lies in information what works for your company, as well as what did not work and not spending resource what did not work. Documentation of such wealth of information (not known to your competitor) over time adds tremendous value to your company.

In case of industries, where employee attrition is very high, special measure should be taken. You should maintain record that you developed specific technologies or strategies independently of your competitor.   It will create a good defence in the long term protection of your company’s IP assets.

Finally,  do not loose valuable intellectual property  rights, just because you did not consider entering into a non-disclosure agreement, data encryption, training employees, marking documents as confidential, password protection of accounts, documenting trade secret policies due to lack of time or so.  Trade secrets are extremely valuable, but that value can instantly vanish, if not maintained adequately.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

Image source: Author

This post is the third in the series of articles on “Entrepreneurship and IP”.

Link to the First part of the series: “Entrepreneurship and IP Part-I: Starting up right”http://www.sciwri.club/?p=871

Link to the Second part of the series: “Entrepreneurship and IP Part II: Patent strategy and business value” http://www.sciwri.club/?p=1174

 

Disclaimer: The materials in the blog are solely for the purposes of informing, assisting and educating the readers and are not in any way a substitute for professional opinion or advice. They do not constitute legal advice or legal opinion or solicitation.

Dr. Lipika Sahoo, Founder & CEO of Lifeintelect Consultancy Pvt. Ltd., a registered Indian Patent and Trademark Agent having 16 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a PhD from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). She holds triple masters; MSc from Sambalpur University; PGDIPR from National Law School of India University (NLSIU); PGCBM from Xavier Institute of management (XIMB); and advanced certifications from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Patents and Patent Drafting.

lipika@lifeintelect.com| https://in.linkedin.com/in/lipikasahoo|

News: The Author will be  conducting a workshop in IIM, Bangalore on IP & Entrepreneurship for start-ups & entrepreneurs associated with IIM ecosystem.

IP_DrLipika_24thAug_emailer

Link to Poster: IP_DrLipika_Poster_24thAug

 

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Entrepreneurship and IP Part II: Patent strategy and business value

in Sci-IP/SciBiz by

Lipika 2

Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity” -Michael Porter

There are several challenges for a start-up company, including developing a viable product or service, business development, employee recruitment, business value creation, tackling competition from bigger companies and new entrants, technological advancement and also managing legal and regulatory compliances. Typically start-ups are flooded with recommendations and advice from friends, peers, mentors and investors about business challenges and patent strategy they should follow.

One of the expensive mistakes a start-up entrepreneur can make is messing up their intellectual property right policies.  Irrespective of size of the company, effective and diligent IP portfolio management is vital for any emerging company. Bigger companies have the resources to address IP issues with relative ease, but what about start-up company? Are the filing strategies for start-ups different from that of established enterprises? Should start-ups wait for venture capitalists to fund their patent filings? Should they focus on business development or prioritize patent protection? Should they wait for patent protection till they have conducted enough customer discoveries?

Patent rights are important because they create a legal barrier to competition, important drivers of risk reduction, adding value to business and for raising seed or venture funding by licensing or transferring IP rights. A start-up needs to manage its own IP rights while avoiding the IP rights of others.

According to WIPO, “A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.”

First thing we need to understand start-ups usually have a tighter budget to address IP issues. In addition, filing strategies differ for start-ups and bigger companies. The key difference is that, the latter have a validated business model, products in the market, qualified customers and established new product development channels. Whereas, the former should validate the actual paying customers who will buy the product or technology within start-up’s business framework. If the start-up cannot validate the actual paying customers for the innovation, then protecting such innovation is expensive waste of time and resource unless there is an actual customer demand for the start-up’s product or technology. The business value from patents should be measured for it to be managed well. Patenting decision should be backed by data. Once they have established that a strong demand exists they must move quickly and ensure a strong IP protection to restrict competitors.

The second most important point for start-ups is to remember that patenting decisions must go hand in hand with business processes, as opposed to being an event or an output of product development process. Patenting decisions should be integrated into business strategy on an ongoing basis. We always let our clients know the viable option to integrate IP strategy in innovation process. Proactive IP strategies can help overcome patenting mistakes.

There are few important things you need to know as a start-up to address patenting issues efficiently and in cost effective manner.

1. Specifying protective IP provisions in employees, contractors, partners and suppliers agreements/contracts:

Start-ups usually start their business with consultants, suppliers, partners, contractors and employees. If these stake holders develop an invention during their working time with the start-ups, the invention will belong to the start-up if IP ownership clause is covered in the agreement/contract. However, the stakeholder will always retain her/his right to be mentioned as inventor. All stakeholders including owner and executive board members should sign agreement and assign all IP rights to the start-up if generated using start-up’s resources.

2. Accountability for IP process

Large companies have an in house IP counsel who has the knowledge of company’s ongoing innovation process and are often in charge of IP protection. However, for start-ups with limited budget, it does not make any sense to hire full time IP counsel. Start-ups could look for training one of company’s managers in IP processes who could be accountable for IP protection. Another viable option for start-ups could have an external IP strategist who could be part of the innovation team and has access to product development pipeline on a part-time basis.

Accountability of IP process ensures that the IP created are adequately protected and unrecoverable errors that open unwelcome competition are minimized. Furthermore, it reinforces that IP creation and protection are aligned with company’s business processes

3. Protecting valuable innovations with patents

It is true that not all companies create patentable invention, and it is also true that patents can be obtained for simple safety pins to complex automobiles.

Sometimes companies decide not to protect innovations with patent filings for various reasons like; cost factors, strength of protection, time factor or wrongly informed etc. At times these are business decisions.

If you don’t protect your invention, and the product becomes successful, competitors may copy your product. Smaller competitor may sell at lower price as they would not have incurred research and development expenditure. Also, larger organization has the advantage of volume and scale; they can compete for a reasonable market price.

Also, chances are there that someone else may patent same or equivalent invention and could legitimately exclude you from manufacturing or may ask you to pay a licensing fee for the use of invention.

However, you may also consider disclosing your invention to the public without patenting it. Then it becomes prior art for all future applications. This is commonly known as defensive publication. In such scenario, no one (including yourself) can file patent for the same invention due to lack of novelty.

4. Patents are territorial

Patents are territorial rights, granted and enforced by national patent office as per the law of that country. At present, there is no “Universal patent” or “World patent”. However, there are few regional patent offices like, “European Patent Office (EPO)” and the “African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO)” that accept regional patent application and grant patent for that region.

Again, if you are seeking patent protection in multiple countries, you may consider filing an international application under ‘Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)’. PCT has 148 participating nations; any resident of these nations can initiate a single international patent filing process through PCT. However, the grant and enforcement of patent will be done by national patent office that you will choose.

5. Invention has to be unique universally

Though patents are territorial rights, but the invention has to be unique world wide, in order to be patentable. Before incurring the expense for patent filing, it is highly recommended to conduct a worldwide patent search to identify similar patents, to understand the novelty and inventiveness of the invention.

6. Have cost effective strategies for patent filings

Patent application drafting, filing, prosecution and maintenance can be expensive when you have too many international filings. So it is important to develop good strategies to minimise cost on managing IP assets. Start-ups should work closely with a patent attorney or patent agent and should do some initial work by themselves to save money. They should be actively involved in patenting process and understanding the patent procedures.

7. Patent claim coverage

Patent should provide long term business value and competitive advantage to company. Patent claims should cover more than just the product. It should cover the reason why the customer will buy your product. Patent claims should capture the value of the product. It should cover functional benefits of the product and claims should have sufficient scope to prevent your competition from providing the same value to your customer.

Conclusion

Intellectual property rights, especially patents, help in safeguarding a start-up’s innovation, serve as an indicator for potential VC funding and a guide to discover potential alliance partners.

Innovation to a large extent happens in start-ups, smaller companies, research labs and universities. As company becomes too large, decision-making process becomes slower. Large companies usually do not stay responsive to support a vibrant innovation ecosystem. Most of the times they prefer to buy smaller start-up companies with a thriving innovation process and good IP assets. Without legal ownership of technology, both sides may find it difficult to disclose the invention for the fear of idea or concept being stolen. Therefore, start-ups should have a good patent portfolio to trade with. Patents are tools that can help facilitate a deal with other company that may want part of your right though license or technology transfer. How will you trade the interesting things the other company has to offer if you don’t have anything to trade for?

References: 1, 2, 3

This post is the second in the series of articles on “Entrepreneurship and IP”.

Disclaimer: The materials in the blog are solely for the purposes of informing, assisting and educating the readers and are not in anyway a substitute for professional opinion or advice. They do not constitute legal advice or legal opinion or solicitation.

Dr. Lipika Sahoo, Founder & CEO of Lifeintelect Consultancy Pvt. Ltd., a registered Indian Patent Agent having 16 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). She holds triple masters; MSc from Sambalpur University; PGDIPR from National Law School of India University (NLSIU); PGCBM from Xavier Institute of management (XIMB); and advanced certifications from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Patents and Patent Drafting. Dr. Lipika is also an inventor and passionate about technology & innovation; likes music, history & architecture.

lipika@lifeintelect.com | https://in.linkedin.com/in/lipikasahoo |

 

Image source: Google http://bit.ly/1WR16gz

 

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Entrepreneurship and IP Part I: Starting up right

in Sci-IP/SciBiz by

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Innovation and entrepreneurship are the most common buzz words today. One can clearly see the energy, enthusiasm of young talents raring to plunge into entrepreneurial ventures in Indian start up ecosystems. Whether it is a post doctoral researcher in IISc thinking about starting a company based on a brilliant idea of 3D printing technology or a fresh engineering graduate fuelling his renewable energy project for his start up, or a yoga therapist ready to go global with her brand, all are proficient in their respective fields. It is a privilege to associate with such diverse, creative and brilliant entrepreneurial ventures. While it is important for an entrepreneur to follow her passion, initiative, commitment to the idea and dedication to her venture, it is also equally important to starting up right. Protection of Intellectual property(IP) is a valuable business asset for a start up. Irrespective of nature of business, IP provides both business value and competitive advantage for a company. IP policy should be ingrained by design into company strategies as the business develops. Succeeding in the marketplace with your idea is a journey- a continuous process. You need to think and follow some strategies for successfully building an enterprise. Here is what you need to know while starting your venture if you are new to the business world.

Choosing a business name:

1) Company name and Trademark: Trademark is a mark capable of being represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing your goods or services from others. A mark could be:  Brand (Example: BPL), Device (refers to pictorial representation. Example: CoCa-Cola), Name (Example: TATA), Letter (Example: IBM, GM), Word (Example: LIFEINTELECT, INFOSYS) and so on. Think long and think deep about your business name. A name that will last long because rebranding is expensive and stressful. Choose a name which will embody your values, stand out and communicate your identity to your consumers. You should avoid generic or descriptive phrases as your company name. For example, “Laptop Service”, ‘The Solar Panel” etc. Arbitrary and coined names are considered as stronger mark and are entitled to greater protection. For example, “Yahoo’ for internet service, “Kodak” for camera etc.

2) Company name for Limited Liability Company: If you are planning for Limited Liability Company, you need to check the availability of names with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Registrar of Companies.

3) Your web presence: A company’s website can be a great tool for promoting business. You will need to work with an available web domain and register your company domain name with a web hosting company.

Please note that all these three bodies function independent of each other. So before choosing your company name you need to check the availability of names with all three.

Understand your industry’s best IP practices:

Protecting your intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights, technical know-how and other tactics creates a legal fencing necessary to safeguard your idea, builds a cushion of competitive advantage and helps in fund raising. Despite being expensive, it is necessary to build a strong IP portfolio. And that should be adequately funded and managed well.

Before creating the IP road map for your company, it is imperative to know how your industry deals with intellectual property. For example, in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and telecommunication industry, products stay on the market for decades. That suggests start-ups in these sectors need bulletproof IP and patent protection from the beginning. However, retail industry, consumer device and manufacturing sectors have a shorter product life-cycle. So, the best strategy used by these industries is to file late in the product-development process, and may also benefit from the use of different IP policies such as trade secrets and confidentiality agreements.

Start the IP protection process early:

Whatever may be the IP strategy you follow for your business, you need to understand, plan and execute them from the beginning. If you have a big idea for a product or process, it is always good to know the possible options to protect the idea. Talk to an IP consultant and do some research at an early stage. Believe me, many times it helps a lot in iteration and proof of concept phase, and aid your innovation process. If patenting early is best, search out an IP firm in the beginning. Already years in business but don’t have IP policies to protect your valuable ideas or brand? Get started now. In the present day knowledge economy, IP protection should not be at the bottom of your to-do-list. Additionally know that, for industrial design and patent protection, the subject matter has to be new & novel. So, you need to file for patent protection or design registration before making any public disclosure.

Conclusion:

Every business is different and every industry requirements are different. So an IP strategy of a company depends on technology, funding, consumer base, product life cycle and stages of company. Success in market place depends on several factors, and if you don’t plan for success from the beginning you are almost certainly planning to fail. You should have immediate, short-term, intermediate and long-term strategies for IP protection and innovation.

References: 1, 2, 3

— Lipika Sahoo

 

–This post is the first in an upcoming series of articles on “Entrepreneurship and IP”.–

Disclaimer: The materials in the blog are solely for the purposes of informing, assisting and educating the readers and are not in anyway a substitute for professional opinion or advice. They do not constitute legal advice or legal opinion or solicitation.

Dr. Lipika Sahoo, Founder & CEO of Lifeintelect Consultancy Pvt. Ltd., a registered Indian Patent Agent having 16 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). She holds triple masters; MSc from Sambalpur University; PGDIPR from National Law School of India University (NLSIU); PGCBM from Xavier Institute of management (XIMB); and advanced certifications from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Patents and Patent Drafting. Dr. Lipika is also an inventor and passionate about technology & innovation; likes music, history & architecture.

lipika@lifeintelect.com| https://in.linkedin.com/in/lipikasahoo|

 

(image source:  http://blog.internationalstudent.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/game-design.jpg)

 

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Entrepreneurship Experience in Bangalore

in Entrepreneurship/Face à Face/SciBiz by

 

I have been asked to put down my experience of starting and running a business in Bangalore. All of us have lived in Bangalore for at least 2 years inside the IISc campus. Our view of Bangalore is heavily skewed by our experience at IISc. My view of Bangalore was that it is a very settled, slow moving, high-tech and amazingly green city.

I graduated from IISc in December 2008 and returned to Bangalore only in January 2015. This time I was in a different part of Bangalore, the startup region – south Bangalore. I was pleasantly surprised to see the speed of development here. Everywhere you go, you will find boards of companies hanging over houses, buildings and shops, new buildings being constructed to house more and more companies. No street is left untouched by the startup buzz.

We started our company at a coworking space. The concept of cowork space is pretty amazing as it gives you a feel of office without being too hard on your budget. Most companies are bootstrapped at least in the initial period of their existence, our case was no different. Companies providing cowork spaces most often convert big houses into workspaces, where they charge you per seat (~5k) and also provide you with a registered address for your company. You can also get a dedicated room or cabin for your team at a slightly higher cost per month.

Being in a cowork space you get to interact with other startups and participate in their journey. I will often see a 3 member founders team suddenly getting a lot of funding and increasing their team to 30-40 in a matter of a week and then moving out of the coworking space. Others will remain stable and work on their product. Some will stop coming as their startups were not going anywhere.

Our company is now 1 year old, unofficially (0.5 years, officially). We are now incubated at IISc. Instead of putting everything in one post, what I have decided is to write to you in intervals as I go through more experiences.

 

Neha Satak Astrome Tech

 

Neha
Astrome Technologies (www.astrome.co)
(An Indian Space Technology Company)

 

 

 

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The mantra is…………..Innovation

in SciBiz by

SciWri

 

I believe there would be a general agreement on the fact that companies in today’s world need to innovate to survive. However, the conundrum is how much of the company’s revenue (small/medium enterprises) or initial funds (as for start-ups) be focused on the research activity?

 

Let us take examples of two types of business models (we would only consider biotech/life science industry). First is the ‘service’ model where the companies provide technological services for fee. These might range from providing protein purification services to next generation sequencing. The companies rely on their expertise and promote their cause by trying to give the best services. Since many of the companies utilize an already known technology they focus on giving their clients the best technological support and in due course would expect good ‘word of mouth’ publicity for the company to promote its services. The better companies which survive for the longest duration however are also focused on improving the ‘in –use’ technologies to sharpen their service portfolio. This is crucial as the subtle improvements can bring in new clients and can also cater better to the existing client base. One general question can be since these companies utilize instruments or reagents from established players (Illumina, Agilent etc.) why should the service provider invest money to innovate? Surely the instrument manufacturers are doing their bit and the service providers can acquire the technology from them! So why not completely focus on marketing and spend little on ‘in-house’ research? Well, research does not always mean big ticket breakthroughs! Even subtle changes for example, in the protocol of a particular assay can bring in great benefits both in terms of economic advantage as well as technological advancement. Second is that newer methods can provide a valuable feedback to the instrument manufacturers and therefore the possibility of partnership increases. This gives a huge fillip to the ‘brand value’ of the service provider. Hence one cannot completely shut innovation even in service based business models.

 

Let us now look at the ‘product’ based business model (again in the realms of life science industry). I guess there is no denying the fact that for product based life science organizations ranging from companies delivering ‘bioinformatics suite’ to companies selling enzymes, innovation has to take the primary seat. Newer and better products are the keys to survival!

 

But having known these facts how many SMEs (Small medium enterprises) really focus on innovation? Many companies think that money spent on R&D is not worth it especially in the life science sector as there is a long incubation period and higher failure rates. But then investing in research is like buying insurance. Not only the companies need to invest but invest in the right idea and people to continue surviving in this fast paced era!

 

 

 

 

 

Deb

About the author: Dr Debojyoti Dhar, PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc) has over 10 years experience in academic and industry ‘research and development’ (R&D) activities along with strong multi domain knowledge in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He has worked extensively on translational control of gene regulation during his PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc) and post doctoral research (UMass Medical School, USA).

Dr Dhar has also worked on diabetes and metabolic syndrome at Connexios Life sciences, a drug discovery company based in India. He has held leadership positions in various companies with roles in R&D, Business Development, Corporate Communications and Consultancy and has thorough knowledge on new cutting edge technologies in the bio-science space. An avid reader with keen interest in quantum physics and holistic medicine, Dr Dhar writes a blog on disease, research and its impact on society and life science industry in general (www.debiisc.blogspot.in). Dr Dhar has to his credit various publications in top-tiered peer reviewed journals and has attended and presented lectures at many conferences and Institutes.

At present, Dr Dhar is Director at Leucine Rich Bio Pvt Ltd., a bioinformatics driven organization. He takes care of the business development, corporate communications activities apart from spearheading innovation and general management of the organization.

https://in.linkedin.com/in/dr-debojyoti-dhar-8a1b5717

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The road ahead for Life Science PhDs – the industry options

in SciBiz by

SCIWRI 10

Getting a PhD is always a very big achievement more so if one has received that degree from a prestigious Institution. Many who are interested in pursuing a PhD do so mainly because of love for “science”. There is no better happiness but to see or find something novel during the course of various experiments that one undertakes during this journey. Of course, out of 100 experiments may be 90 would fail but that teaches tremendous level of perseverance and patience. What is not taught in most institutions is the career path that a budding scientist can take!

Most PhDs go for post doctoral research which is a kind of bridge between getting an academic/industry position and PhD training. Although, it could be the most productive phase of one’s career, many a times that may not be true. Also, being a post doctoral research for long not only dents the individual’s morale but also reduces chance of getting a meaningful employment later. So what are the options?

Not everyone can pursue an academic dream so for the rest industry does provide an alternative if one is receptive enough. There are many options a PhD can look at:-

  • Consultancy jobs – Pharma consultancy jobs require good analytical skills and PhDs generally fit the bill perfectly, however, this is a completely different domain and requires new skill sets which many would possess but may not realize till they start working for such organizations.
  • Industry R&D – Here, I think many PhDs would feel comfortable. However, industry research is completely different from the academic one. Stricter timelines and deadlines are the norm. So one has to quickly adjust to the new environment.
  • Business Development – This is a domain for those who like presenting or networking with people. Not all PhDs are comfortable in this and therefore before getting into this one has to be clear about the road map. This generally also requires lot of travelling. One has to always achieve and sometimes surpass the ‘targets’ set by the organizations so that becomes a challenge. However, with good support and skills one can achieve the same. Many PhDs who have transitioned into this domain have become very successful.
  • Application Scientists – This is also a good domain for people who are technically good and like travelling but are averse to chasing ‘numbers’. Many big organizations like ThermoFisher, Illumina etc. have an army of application scientists. Initially one has to be in the field but slowly one climbs up the ladder and is required to manage the team of scientists.
  • Scientific writing/Editing – For many PhDs who are technically good and love reading /writing and have a good command over English can look at this option. Many companies in India like Cactus communications advertize for editors/sub editors in various fields of life science.
  • Recruitment – Although, this is probably the least favorite among the PhDs but it does provide another job alternative. Many recruitment agencies hire PhDs to scan and analyze multiple CVs they get so that the right person is shortlisted for the right job interviews.
  • IP/Technology Transfer – This is another exciting domain. Although, this requires some experience and few additional courses/skill sets but can be very rewarding both financially and professionally.

 

There might be other alternatives available to the PhDs. My aim here was not to provide an exhaustive list but to give a glimpse of the avenues present. All of the above options carry their respective pros and cons. So, it is imperative, that an individual first assesses himself before selecting one of the paths. Good luck to all present and budding PhDs.

 

About the author: Dr Debojyoti Dhar, PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc) has over 10 years experience in academic and industry ‘research and development’ (R&D) activities along with strong multi domain knowledge in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He has worked extensively on translational control of gene regulation during his PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc) and post doctoral research (UMass Medical School, USA).

Dr Dhar has also worked on diabetes and metabolic syndrome at Connexios Life sciences, a drug discovery company based in India. He has held leadership positions in various companies with roles in R&D, Business Development, Corporate Communications and Consultancy and has thorough knowledge on new cutting edge technologies in the bio-science space. An avid reader with keen interest in quantum physics and holistic medicine, Dr Dhar writes a blog on disease, research and its impact on society and life science industry in general (www.debiisc.blogspot.in). Dr Dhar has to his credit various publications in top-tiered peer reviewed journals and has attended and presented lectures at many conferences and Institutes.

At present, Dr Dhar is Director at Leucine Rich Bio Pvt Ltd., a bioinformatics driven organization. He takes care of the business development, corporate communications activities apart from spearheading innovation and general management of the organization.

https://in.linkedin.com/in/dr-debojyoti-dhar-8a1b5717

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This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Biking to my calling

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I have learnt some of the greatest lessons in my life by embarking on adventuresome activities, such as going on a long distance cycling expedition. I have applied those lessons in entrepreneurship and in some way I feel entrepreneurship is like long distance cycling. I’ll tell you why I feel so.

Last year, that is year 2011, some time during February or March I was not associated with any organization either as an employee or as a student. I was pretty much on my own. I had not started FluxGen but I was doing some minor experiments on solar and stuff. I was in no hurry hence I was taking my own time in going about setting up the business. During that time I came to know that a friend of mine, Jonathan Fernandez, was planning to do a cycle trip to his home that is Goa, from Bangalore – well it is about 600 and odd kilometers.

Being an adventure seeker, I was thrilled about the whole idea. I met Jonathan soon after hearing the idea and we started discussing. Considering the fact that none of us had done much of cycling for many years we decided to do some short trips before planning for the Goa expedition. In next couple of months, we did couple of one day trips of about 150kms and then did a three day trip to Chennai (from Bangalore)- it’s about 350kms. We did a few more expeditions with other friends as well. And finally we were ready to do the Goa expedition.

We did it pretty much like we had dreamt of doing it. It was a fantastic experience. I still think about that trip a lot. I am going to share with you few interesting instances during our Bangalore- Goa cycling expedition..

The first day of the expedition, when Jon and I had completed about 80kms, we met a person by name Uday on the road. He was going on a scooter. He was kind of curious to know about us and our expedition. He enquired about it. When I told him that we were going to Goa he was thrilled and was keen in assisting us in some way. He offered us lunch at his place and also spoke to his friend who was about 70kms from that place to give us shelter and arrange dinner for that night. Well his friend, who was an absolute stranger just like Uday, took good care of us that night. We could only thank those gentlemen.

There is another incident I remember very well. Jon and I at times had very asymmetric speed, sometimes he was ahead and sometimes me. Once when Jon was very ahead of me, about 10kms distance, my cycle got punctured. I had the puncture kit but I had never used it before. I was trying to somehow fix it and then there were some villagers who came to my rescue. With their help I could get the puncture fixed.

Similar incidents happened a few more time during the trip, and we could crack it with the help of people around. Long distance cycling is prone to uncertainties and with experience a cyclist would learn to tackle it. The last thing I would like to share about the trip with you is the stuff we carried during our entire journey. We had planned to complete the expedition in four to five days. Since all throughout the trip we had to carry the luggage on our shoulders or on the cycle, we had to be very economical on the weight we carried. Jon and I did a very calculated decision on carrying necessary stuff, because of which we had to compromise on our daily comfort. After the whole trip we hardly found it as any kind of discomfort. The life style that I got used to during my time on such expeditions has pretty much changed my lifestyle forever. The point I am trying to make here is that our prime focus was in completing the expedition in a stipulated time limit and we managed to complete the expedition with the least possible we could do with. Coming to the entrepreneurship part, which is what I’m supposed to speak, here is what I see the similarity with the long distance cycling. There are some things that are very obvious which I leave you guys to figure out but things that I really want to emphasis I’ll speak here I believe, the stuff you want to do should definitely be daring and exciting. If it doesn’t excite your mind then probably you will not be able to go for long. Goa trip would not have happened had I was not super excited about it. And another thing, it will happen, you shouldn’t be thinking about it all the time, you’ll sooner or later feel the excitement on some stuff you come across and then you may wish to take it to the next level. The first step you take matters a lot. It could be a tiny tiny step, but it still matters. The first step may not be taken with complete logic or planning. Most of the time, the first step is taken with faith. Once you have taken the big leap of starting a business, you will be encountered with several problems and issues. I believe, any issue or a problem can be divided into smaller and smaller parts which may be solved by applying first principles. The confidence to divide any problem statement into multiple small problems will make you capable of tackling any problem that you come across or the problem you define. While you become confident of taking up a tough venture, you will always find people around you willing to assist you. I’d like to mention a Sanskrit quote :“Dhaiyram sarvathra sadhanam” – Courage is applicable everywhere. Courage for a good cause is that kind of human spirit that will always be appreciated and encouraged – so don’t feel alone when you are doing something that makes sense with a bit of courage. While you will find many people interested in assisting you out, I should also warn you that the formulas that you will hear from people for success are many but what would fit into your equations is your job to figure out. Sometimes you may have to do all the mistakes yourself to figure out, while sometimes you may be in a position to just learn from others mistakes but what you should remember is that no two real world problems are exactly same. Coming to the most important part, the focus on what you want to do is very important for many reasons. You may be limited by factors like money, time, expertise etc. With these limitations sometimes you may think you are in a deadlock. But the truth is everybody comes with some or the other limitations. I believe, that with a focused attention and taking calculated risk on things that you really want to do you will be able overcome any limitation and many a times you will convert your disadvantage to some advantage – I’ll not tell you how, I’ll leave you to experience that thing yourself. With this gyan that I may have acquired during last couple of years I’ll end my talk. All the best, take care!

 

About the author: Ganesh Shankar is the Managing Director of FluxGen Technologies. His aim is to push technologies for renewable energy systems so that they become economically viable and reliable.

http://www.fluxgentech.com/

Photo source: Ganesh Shankar

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