Unearthing deeptech innovation worldwide — Meet our Curators — #3
Only 4days to apply to the Global Challenge 2019! And a good occasion to check on the people who are working relentlessly to unearth the best deeptech startups around. Meet Eshna Gogia, one of our most active curators, based in India, mostly working in Hyderabad and Delhi.
Hello Eshna ! Let’s dive directly into it. What is the coolest tech you came across because your work as a Curator for the HT Global Challenge?
I’d say Airlabs, a London-based startup has developed AirBubbl, an air cleaning system. The product can be used in cars, buses, office space, home and outdoor spaces as well. It removes over 95% of Nitrogen oxide in your immediate surroundings as well as other pollutants.
A Dutch company called Land Life Company has developed a technology called ‘Cocoon’, a sustainable tree planting technology to plant trees in dry and degraded lands that require lesser water. They have been able to plant trees in over 20 countries under varying conditions. They aim to reforest 2 billion hectares of degraded land around the world.
Why are you drawn to the field of biotech?
The next revolution is brewing and we all are going to have access to biotechnology at a price we can afford. Biotechnology is a part of our everyday life. Three years ago, when I began my journey with Helixworks, I was fascinated with the idea that you can convert raw materials to finished products using microscopic factories.
Building with biology is like putting molecular LEGO blocks together. From food to vaccines and chemicals to clothes every product we use has some amount of biotech-related process involved in its production which makes it easy to connect with this field.
Synthetic Biology is a great example of converging technologies as it beautifully integrates diverse fields like nanotech, IT, medicine, biotech, biophysics and even arts.
It has changed our approach towards sustainable production of various commodities. It is now providing us with animal-free milk and meat that tastes exactly like real animal products, fabrics and dyes that have a low environmental impact than the conventional petroleum-based products and medicines at a price we can afford.
What would you be your advice for an early-stage startup in Biotech?
We can’t compare the ecosystems globally as some nations are still developing and some are far developed to provide adequate funds that can serve beyond basic structuring.
Biotech companies are often placed in a tough spot. The nature of this sector makes product-building capital intensive. The policies and regulations also don’t allow you to work as freely as other sectors.
- Grants and aids
It is best to seek for grants and aids that are set aside by the government or local bodies for Science and Technology. Be bold in articulating the need for your technology and product in this sector.
It is important to build collaborations with scientists and research institutes. They can be your alpha customers and you can also reach out to them for an advice on developing your technology as well as feedback on product-building.
3. Incubation spaces and accelerator programmes
Incubation centres give you basic infrastructure and access to the state-of-the-art equipment and technical expertise. Accelerator programmes can help you with networking and mentoring session with the right people in the industry. It can be useful in iterating ideas and brainstorming the risk in the process. One can leverage the network set in place by these spaces to build partnerships and even raise capital.
According to you, what is our most pressing challenge right now and how can we tackle it?
Fear mongering in our society is not because of science, it is because the power is in the hands of a few. Biotechnology is often portrayed as a field that deals with genetic engineering and modified crops. If we look closely, this image has been built due to a lack of sustainable business practice.
For example, the world crop seed market is owned by 4 major companies. The consumers have little to no control over ‘what they want to grow and what they can choose’.
In order to change a situation like this which is also existing in other verticals within Biotechnology, we as citizens should support the democratization of technology. The concept of free market society would give end users the power to decide what they want to buy and who would they like to support.
As the technical community around the world is coming together on platforms like Hello Tomorrow, can we outline a roadmap that deals with how the new entrants can break-in to disrupt the monopoly in these markets? Can we pave a path for a market where just how app developers freely upload newer and better versions of their product on app stores, even the innovators in this field can come forward and showcase the breakthroughs as easily?
For those who weren’t fully paying attention, can you summarize your role as curator at Hello Tomorrow?
The world of startups has always been intriguing to me as I love learning about new and converging technologies. I was excited to hear from HT team and build a network in India together with them. The deeptech ecosystem in India is still in its early stages and opportunities like the HT Global Challenge could prove to be a great way to showcase the solutions that Indian startups are building here. Deep tech is becoming a buzzword that every startup resonates with these days thus it was quite a task to dig for the hidden core-tech based startups.
Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi are some of the places where a majority of new-age companies are based. In collaboration with AIC-CCMB, an HT ecosystem partner, we hosted events to reach out to individuals, entrepreneurs, investors, and startup-enthusiasts.
Coupling the ideology of Hello Tomorrow with tech-based spaces and individuals involved in sectors like Healthcare, Biotech, Agritech, Environment has been instrumental in developing an ecosystem in India.
Thank you very much for your insights, Eshna!