A Seasoned mentor and enabler in the life sciences innovation ecosystem.

You are currently viewing A Seasoned mentor and enabler in the life sciences innovation ecosystem.

Dr. Ramjee Pallela

INTERVIEW

By Major Sunil Shetty, SM (Retd)

He holds a PhD from CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad, post doc from Pusan National University, South Korea as well as IPR (NALSAR university, Hyderabad) & MBA. Ramjee was the Chief Manager, Grants Management Division at IKP Knowledge Park, Hyderabad, working closely with Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Govt. of India enterprise.

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Q: What is your role at Atal Incubation Centre, CCMB? You may be aware that Atal Incubation Center, CCMB is supported by the Atal Innovation Mission of NITI Aayog, Government of India. Our organisation is a Section 8 Company that is established under the umbrella of CSIR-CCMB. I foresee how to support early-stage healthcare and biopharma startups in the Incubation Center. Q: What is the selection and onboarding criteria for school students? Atal Innovation Mission has different verticals, and one such unique vertical in India is Atal Tinkering Labs. A bunch of school student innovators from different schools are competing to become national champions. Top 50 innovators every year are assigned to deep tech incubators like ours. We then nurture and mentor them. Q: How many startups can you incubate in a year? We can physically incubate up to 45 startups by giving 100-300 square feet of space, desk space and separate co-working space. On the whole, we can hold fifty innovator teams at the information centre. Q: Due to the pandemic, we have seen a push towards the healthcare sector. Do you see more entrepreneurs and startups taking to the healthcare segment? Due to Covid, healthcare opportunities are rising, especially for academic innovators and student innovators, those inclined to take up entrepreneurship and enterprise setup.CCMB, as a host organisation, also motivates scientists to set up their enterprises by giving adequate financial support. Q: What startups are incubated at AIC CCMB? Are they all coming from cities or rural India as well? Mostly, local startups from different regions like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi etc. There are various programs like seed funding and virtual fellowship programs. So there is no limitation for the startups in any region. CCMB has promoted several rural innovators recently. Q: How has the response been among schools for innovation? We have close to 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs in India(ATLs). Telangana, AP and Tamil Nadu have more than close to thousands of such ATLs. The response, curiosity, and enthusiasm among students is enormous, and ATLs and AIM and the government’s support are trying to bring out such brilliant ideas. Q: How do you see in the next 3-5 years youth taking to startups? So the next three to five years will be revolutionary because the mindsets change from exploratory kinds of innovations to disruptive innovations. I think that shift is happening, and the government is providing platforms for young innovators. So India is competing globally in the innovation index now. Q: You have many programs for startups and young innovators. Could you tell us about some? Other than infrastructure facilities and physical spaces, and hand-holding activities for the startups, we have small funds as fellowships for youngsters who have finished their graduation or undergraduate studies and are doing a PhD. We focus on social innovation, and the name of the program is Social Innovation Immersion Program. Q: Finally, what are your views on My Startup TV, especially for early-stage startups? It is a unique idea to focus and work around the startup sector. You are doing a brilliant job. Congratulations and all the best for your future endeavours.