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India needs to invest in affordable innovation, support innovative start ups for growth: Expert

Gireesh Babu, New Delhi
Friday, January 28, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

India needs to invest in affordable innovation and embrace entrepreneurship as an economic model of growth and backing innovative start-ups as a model to create economic and employment growth, says Upadhyayula Suryanarayana Murty, director, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER)- Guwahati.

Affordable innovation, which presents ways to innovate, be flexible, and do more with less, can lead to breakthrough growth in a complex and resource-scarce world.

“India thus needs to invest in affordable innovation and embrace entrepreneurship as an economic model of growth. By backing innovative start-ups, we wish to create an ‘ideas economy’ that generates perpetual value accretion and thereby economic and employment growth, said Murthy, who is also the chairman of BioNEST Incubation Centre (Funded by BIRAC, DBT, Govt. of India), NIPER-Guwahati in a recent article in the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority’s (NPPA’s) bi-monthly e-newsletter Aushadh Sandesh.

There is also emergence of several start-ups in the country that can offer affordable healthcare solutions for paving the pathway of innovations and accessibility.

For instance, UE Life Sciences, OncoStem Diagnostics and Mapmygenome are leveraging ‘affordable innovation’ to come up with business models that can make early cancer detection available and accessible. UE Lifesciences portable device - iBreastExam - for early detection of breast cancer is one such example as this device acts as a huge benefit over traditional mammography and other detection techniques involving radiography that are harmful as well as expensive, and hence unaffordable in the Indian context.

Another example is Mapmygenome, a molecular diagnostics and predictive health analytics company that offers a full range of tests to identify an individual's genetic predisposition to lifestyle, metabolic, cardiovascular, ocular, skin, and hair, orthopaedic, and gender-specific conditions.

Other examples include Navya Network, which has developed an online platform that allows patients and their families to consult leading oncologists from top institutes such as the Tata Memorial Hospital for a nominal fee and Perfint Healthcare, which has developed advanced robotic technology for image-guided cancer therapy, enabling doctors to perform quick, accurate and cost-effective interventional procedures such as biopsy and drug delivery.

Pharma manufacturers in India can produce bulk drugs that cost 60% less than those in the West and can open a production plant in India 40% cheaper than in developed countries. This has helped India emerge as a hub for pharmaceutical research and development and clinical trials for many leading foreign pharmaceutical companies.

A lower cost base combined with a robust and ethical regulatory environment has enabled India to emerge as a vital producer of affordable medicines and the world's largest supplier of affordable generic drugs. India's pharmaceutical industry exports to more than 200 countries and is the second largest supplier of over- the-counter and prescription drugs to the US market.

“Affordable innovation is the only way forward, and India has a unique opportunity to deliver it to global markets by building excellence across the innovation chain from discovery to product development. For this kind of innovation to happen in India, linkages need to be established between health research and national health programmes to ensure research findings are leveraged in decision making in public health,” he added.

BioNEST Incubation Centre with state-of-the-art infrastructure at NIPER Guwahati was established in 2019 with the ambition of nurturing entrepreneurship culture in the entire North Eastern States (NER) of the country by means of affordable innovations.

Bio-NEST has entered into MoU with 04 innovators from NE-India to roll-out their NER projects and very shortly they will be able to commercialize their product/prototype through affordable innovations.


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