Covid-19 pandemic made biotech companies the hot new technology sector to invest in. The sector drew a lot of attention over the last two years during the pandemic, primarily because “it generated all the life-saving drugs, vaccines, and therapeutics that literally just saved the world.”
Pfizer and Moderna’s highly successful Covid vaccines, for example, were developed in the U.S. in record time and use Messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology, which had never been cleared for use in humans before.
Increased interest in the novel technology during the pandemic has driven a lot of capital into the sector, fuelling record financings. Take the case of city-based Redicine, an AI start-up that reminds patients to take medicines on time daily. Founded by management and engineering graduates Kush Prajapati, Dhaumil Parmar, Raj Shah and Harsh Mangukiya, the healthcare prototype was developed two years ago but got funding and also application in some city-based hospitals only last year.
This is among the 15+ startups from Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar-based incubators that finally managed the funding.
iShares Biotechnology ETF, which tracks the biotech industry’s biggest players, has surged roughly 62% over the last two years, with investment officers holding that investors are pouring “enormous” amounts of money into the sector in anticipation of what the industry will do after the pandemic subsides.
According to Satyajit Acharya director at Cradle where Redicine is incubated: “Young entrepreneurs saw the opportunity in the pandemic. Of 13 of our start-ups that got funding in 2022, five are from the healthcare sector. The biotech innovations seen at the Monday meet to take stock of annual bio-medical ventures, has been mind-boggling. In fact, Ahmedabad-based LymbEdge was declared among the winners and is a start-up to help patients in rehabilitation.”
Likewise at GUSEC, the incubator at Gujarat University which reported incubation of 10 new start-ups in health-tech and six in bio-tech, in 2022. In comparison, the AI/ machine learning sector saw six new ventures get funding while 13 edutech start-ups initiated their active status last year.
Rahul Bhagchandani, group CEO and executive director, GUSEC, shared that about Rs 60 crore funding was received by start-ups in the food, healthcare, fintech, energy and agritech sectors. He added that “high-end technology” is fast emerging a favored investment proposition.
Adding to the same line of thought, Hiranmay Mahanta, CEO, iHUB noted: “Till January 2023, Gujarat had about 6,300 start-ups, of which 34% or about one-third were in healthcare and lifesciences. At CIIE.CO, the incubator at IIM(A), the prominent new start-ups for 2022 ranged healthcare, biotech, cleantech and mobility. It also helped that the state government, in 2022, introduced the state-level incubator doe medical colleges to encourage students to venture into entrepreneurship.”