What was the idea behind starting NBIL? What challenges came your way during the starting out phase?
NBIL was born out of an idea to bring about exponential changes in the field of precision medicine and personalised treatments. The desire to use a novel emerging technology, like 3D Printing, and to create a large scale societal impact was the common goal that brought the initial team together. Being the first in market is always a challenge. In the process, we had to identify the right global partners, develop technology from scratch and build an interdisciplinary team that has, over the years, helped us grow leaps and bounds in a short time frame.
Start-ups have been amongst the most affected due to the corona crisis. How has the present period of corona crisis fared for your organisation?
Overcoming new challenges and pitfalls along the way, is part and parcel of any start-up’s growth cycle. However, the current ongoing COVID-19 crisis was something none of us were prepared for. Given that we are an R&D-focused company, the COVID-19 lockdown threw at us big curveballs. We used the lockdown period to revaluate plans, better strategise and look at how our expertise and knowledge base could be used to assist the government in the fight against coronavirus.
How can your 3D bioprinter play a vital role in the testing of new drugs, especially now, when there is a lot of drug testing going on to find a cure for the coronavirus?
NBIL has partnered with Merck group (German life sciences and healthcare multinational group) and is working to ensure that in the long run, 3D Bioprinting can be used as an effective tool to bring down the cost of novel drug development. The secret to success here is the ability to customise and personalise 3D bioprinters and specific biomaterials being used. We have embarked on this journey with our 3D bioprinter, TRIVIMA – a customisable 3D Bioprinting printing platform for R&D labs around the world.
In 2017, your company received the Karnataka government’s Idea2PoC grant. How did that help fast-track your journey towards advancements in your 3D bioprinter?
Receiving the Idea2PoC grant from the Government of Karnataka helped us take off and accelerate our start-up journey. Using the funds, we have successfully developed India’s first customisable 3D bioprinter and also proudly deployed a Made in India 3D Bioprinting technology within an international R&D lab in Europe.
What plan of action do you intend on implementing to further strengthen NBIL’s position in India?
Collaboration is the key to success. We have already brought on board multiple partners from industries, academia, government and civil society with the goal of advancing 3D Bioprinting in the country. We will soon launch 3D Bioprinting skin – InnoSkin and make it available for R&D labs worldwide for use as an alternative to animal testing. We have other interesting collaborative projects in the pipeline, which will help us move towards our goal of creating a positive societal impact, in the areas of precision medicine and personalised treatments.