The AsiaBerlin Summit, an event organized by the German government to bring together all stakeholders involved in creating an enabling ecosystem for startups, was held in Berlin, Germany, on September 12-16. The Summit was originally conceived and initiated in 1997 and has continuously worked to encourage startups and the startup ecosystem to thrive around the world. This year’s focus was on promoting sustainable development goals within the startup ecosystem.
Vipragen MD Dr Chaitra Harsha who represents the growing tribe of women entrepreneurs in the country
Biosciences was among the delegation from India. He is a recognized personality for his multiple skills and cross-sector impact in social entrepreneurship and healthcare innovation.
Dr Harsha is a graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and is a medical doctor by training, but opted for a career in research instead of clinical practice. She also completed a course at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Bangalore designed to help women entrepreneurs by teaching them certain basic business principles.
Dr. Harsha has been a key participant representing India at many events including the Global Economic Dialogue in Hamburg, Germany and also attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) where he literally rubbed shoulders with Ivanka Trump.
In addition, she is also a Charter Member of TiE Bangalore Chapter where she actively mentors budding women entrepreneurs. Dr. Harsha’s Vipragen, a team of dynamic individuals, outsources their pre-clinical testing resources to global organizations to develop new drugs, therapies, vaccines, and more. is a Contract Research Organization (CRO) that helps direct research and development.
India’s journey as a potential drug development destination began in the late 20th century, but recent regulatory restructuring and capacity building have undoubtedly helped establish India as one of the leading innovation and manufacturing hubs. The global CRO market size is projected to reach US$ 1,24,230 million by 2027, from US$ 58,000 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 11.4 percent during 2021-2027.
Research and manufacturing of medical devices and therapeutic drugs are the major drivers of the market. Increasing investment in research and development, emergence of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, and expiration of drug patents are expected to fuel the growth of the CRO market. Availability of quality medical professionals – automatically reducing the cost of conducting clinical trials at all stages – offers huge potential for India in this sector. This has led to the rise of CROs offering cost-effective and quality services to global pharmaceutical companies.
Vipragen Biosciences, a Mysore-based preclinical drug discovery company, is one such organization. With a team of passionate and dynamic individuals, Vipragen will take shape in the coming year in the areas of medical devices, analytical chemistry, inhalation toxicology, in vitro toxicology and other preclinical discovery and development.
After completing his MBBS, Dr Harsha went on to pursue his PhD from the prestigious IISc in Bengaluru. At IISC, he was researching vaccines against tuberculosis (TB) as part of his PhD thesis. Before becoming part of Vipragen in 2016, with Dr Chandrasekhar, also an IIScian, Dr Harsha wore several hats, including setting up dental clinics, establishing a medical tourism venture and consulting in bioinformatics, among others. She has also done Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs (MPWE) from NSRCL, IIM, Bangaluru for Entrepreneurship.
Vipragen offers pre-clinical research services to biotech and pharmaceutical R&D companies both within India and abroad. Preclinical research involves early-stage studies where potential drugs are tested on animals for safety and evaluated for feasibility in human trials. Initially launched with funds from family and friends, Vipragen’s growth curve was further supported by KITVEN, the Karnataka government’s venture fund that supports Indian angel investors and entrepreneurs.
Vipragen is proud to present a 25,000 sq.ft facility in Mysore that meets the global standards of European and American regulators. ft. boasts a research facility. With more than 50 employees, about half of the staff are scientists and about 35-40 percent are women. In addition to contract research, Dr Harsha said he has received grants from the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology for five projects related to the development of domestic assets.
The company is conducting early-stage research on a natural polymer derived from seaweed that can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers, a potential anticoagulant drug, two licensed antibiotics from the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru, for multi-drug therapy. – resistant (MDR) bacteria and a drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Speaking about the value CROs bring to the table, Dr Harsha says, “The need to deal with increasingly complex drugs and clinical trials is expected to drive the Contract Research Organization (CRO). “Drug development has become more difficult due to advances in in vivo processing procedures. Hiring a CRO sponsor can save time negotiating regulatory and legal constraints that a company may not be familiar with.”
A CRO may have more experience with these procedures and requirements and thus speed up the clinical trial process, ensuring compliance with all rules and regulations more quickly and efficiently. This is expected to further boost the CRO market. Western pharmaceutical companies have been looking hard at India for research assistance since 2005, when the country began adhering to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, a globally recognized intellectual property pact. industry’s interest in India for affordable access to highly qualified scientists.
While most of India’s startups and unicorns have emerged in the IT sector, Dr Harsha says that the development of indigenous vaccines for Covid-19 has brought a paradigm shift in the mindset of investors in the life sciences sector in a very short time. period compared to those in the IT sector.
Hoping for better research and industry collaboration in the future, Dr Harsha is confident that India’s life sciences sector has a bright future if industry and research complement each other as they did during the development of the Covid-19 vaccine. When asked how she manages the stress of being an entrepreneur, Dr Chaitra says, “Women tend to be better entrepreneurs than men, being more organized, meticulous and patient.”