Dr Anil Wali, managing director of the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) at IIT-Delhi, interacted with HT Education on the sidelines of Pfizer’s collaboration with the foundation on healthcare innovation and expressed the desire to make this programme a successful venture to fuel indigenous innovations in the country.
Q. What is the significance of hosting an incubation centre on campus?
This programme is an example of industry-academia collaboration that is aligned to the country’s increasing emphasis on Start-Up India, Stand up India. Through this programme, the setting up of an incubation centre at the IIT-Delhi campus provides multifold advantages - a pipeline of creative ideas, access to expert knowledge base, ambient development environment, access to student interns etc. Besides, such an incubator is a low cost yet effective option to begin a techno-entrepreneurial journey.
Q. Why did IIT Delhi decide to launch a healthcare incubation on campus?
IIT-Delhi has a dry-lab based Technology Business Incubation Unit (TBIU) operated by the FITT since 1999. A formal wet-lab based biotechnology business incubation facility was established a year ago to meet the increasing interest and demand among biotechnology/healthcare innovators and start-ups to incubate at IIT Delhi facility given the strong emphasis on biological sciences and technology here.
This partnership with Pfizer to launch the Pfizer IIT Delhi Innovation and IP Programme comes at an opportune time as the selected innovators/start-ups can avail a gamut of advantages that the institute has to offer through the wet-lab based incubator. The facility brings engineers, scientists and healthcare professionals together to engage on challenging assignments and will help support to developing healthcare innovations that will address some of the challenges we as a country face in the healthcare sector.
Q. Do you see a huge scope for healthcare startups in the country over the next few years?
Indeed, we are seeing increasing interest towards healthcare innovations/start-ups as there still are several unmet needs and challenges. In fact, the Pfizer-IIT-Delhi Innovation and IP programme complements the efforts of government agencies like BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) with whom we work closely. There, we are seeing a gradual increase in the interest of suitably qualified innovators to address scientific challenges of developing practical solutions.
Q. Is there a need to nurture young minds to work on the healthcare platform?
There certainly is a need to nurture young minds who are bubbling with ideas and want to address the various challenges confronting mankind. They need to be guided on the right track so as not to fritter away their energies and interest.
Through our new programme, we invite all innovators/start-ups with their game-changing ideas that could be translated into the right business models around technical solutions in the healthcare domain - be it in affordable, accessible or effective healthcare. We see a lot of potential in diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and new biomedical technologies that could boost the healthcare sector.
Q. Why do you think a startup needs a patent? How can the existing rules be improved in favour of business?
Technology start-ups need patents to protect their proprietary knowledge and suitably monetise them in line with their business interests. Yes, a number of start-ups have become aware of the need to protect their IP. Patents can form part of the business strategy of a company and can give them competitive positioning in the marketplace. Indian start-ups with IP can positively impact the National Innovation capacity. The processes of applying for patents are now being simplified. The pendency is being addressed. The patent regime has become friendly and enforcement is in much better shape.