Vipul Jain, Founder and CEO, Advancells, is a serial entrepreneur who specialises in spotting business opportunities in the inchoate stages. An MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, Vipul established Advancells in 2013. The research-based company focusses on providing cutting-edge Stem Cell Therapies for patients with life threatening diseases and also targets lifestyle diseases with anti-aging technology.
In an interview with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com, Vipul Jain said, “We are currently operating out of our centralized lab in Noida, Delhi/NCR and are able to ship cells to various hospitals not just across India but also in various countries around the world.”
Brief us about the products/services offered by Advancells. What is your business model?
Advancells, works in 4 different verticals. Firstly, we produce basic Human Stem Cells that are used by partner hospitals and doctors in providing regenerative therapies to the patients. Advancells also writes protocols for therapies and provide training to doctors on various facets of regenerative medicine. In the second vertical, we produce organ, species and disease specific primary cells which are used by research institutes, academic institutes and pharma companies around the world to further their research in the field of biology and drugs.
In the third vertical, we produce our patented range of bio scaffolds which once seeded with our cells, are used in regeneration of bones, organs and healing of wounds. Fourthly, we print 3D human organs and finally seed our scaffolds with our primary cells and paste them on the 3D printed organ modals and try to create working modal of a human organ that can be used by pharma companies for drug discovery models. Our moonshot is to be able to produce a transplantable human artificial organ that can one day put an end to mortality rate due to non-availability of transplantable human organs.
We are essentially a B2B business where doctors and hospitals, research institutes, pharma companies etc are our clients, but we regularly get approached by a number of patients both from India and abroad who want our protocols for treatment. We do provide B2C services to such patients also.
We are currently operating out of our centralized lab in Noida, Delhi/NCR and are able to ship cells to various hospitals not just across India but also in various countries around the world.
What are the emerging industry trends in healthcare sector?
Surprisingly very well. India has been always been a follower specially when it comes to medical research. There has hardly been any major medical innovation that has come out of India but things seem to be changing this time. It looks like there will be a good case study where India might just take the lead in stem cell technology and be a world leader in it. We have all the required resources and brain power to make it happen, all we need is supportive legislature, progressive regulators, understanding investors and gritty innovators and you will see things rolling.
The Government of India has started promoting Stem Cell Research with the help of its agencies. The focus is on identifying diseases and conditions that can be cured. Programs to support embryonic and adult stem cell research are in place. Some of the developments include setting up human embryonic stem cell lines, using limbal stem cells to repair corneal surface disorder; classification of haematopoitic, mesenchymal and liver stem cells; as well as segregation of stem cells into neural, cardiac and cell lineages, etc. For rest of the world, there are many researchers who are creating pathbreaking records. Scientists from the University of California, for instance, have created an approach via stem cells to deal with cancerous tissue while anticipating some dangerous reactions of chemotherapy by treating the disease in a progressive manner.
How is the use of technology impacting the healthcare sector?
Needless to say, technology has paved a path for better healthcare solutions. With several technological advancements, countless lives have been saved, and for many more, it has improved the quality of life. Not only has it done wonders for patients with chronic ailments, but it’s also had an impact on medical practices of healthcare professionals.
Now times are changing, and with each new innovation, several industries are undergoing fundamental changes. As with all the verticals of technology, medical tech is one that is advancing rapidly. In fact, if reports are to be believed, as the pace of change accelerates, medical technology companies can certainly expect a boost in the coming months and years! An exponential technological growth is expected in less than a decade from now, leaving market players with advanced scientific knowledge, reduced costs, and even more innovative devices and procedures which can diagnose, monitor, and treat innumerable more conditions than today.
Industry market size of the segment that you operate in? Who are your competitors?
There is no real credible competition for us. The big players in the market are primarily into cord blood banking and for them therapy is a side product on which they don’t concentrate. There are few very small doctors who practice regenerative medicine on their own but could never match up with the product catalogue or research backing that we have. A few large therapy focused companies are trying to make off the shelf, fit for all, type of product which is very different from our protocol that is all about personalized medicine.
What were the challenges faced while setting up the business?
Lack of investment is the biggest challenge. Most new investments in healthcare sector still comes from Trusts, and charities who enter the segment for charity and no profit no loss mind set. This restrains their capacity to invest in research and new technologies and hence it is not easy to get cutting edge technologies in the country. India with its huge population base can be a perfect place for strong medical research but the lack of awareness and investment are major factors in not a lot of medical inventions happening in the country. It is not easy for healthcare research to raise private money as the private investors are wearied about the long gestation period for their investment.
The other major challenge is the acceptance of doctors of a new branch of medicine. It is very difficult to convince doctors of a new way to treat patients and understandably they want long term follow-up data. This data will take time to come and hence growth cannot be as fast as you expect it to be. Government regulations are another challenge as bureaucracy is always a little slow to react to innovation.
The expense of research and clinical preliminaries is high in case of regenerative medicine, in this way confining the research objectives. Aside from cost/enormous speculations, other challenges are administrative difficulties with changing rules across nations, on account of contrasts in the suppositions and social perspectives. Setting up a solitary/regular arrangement or rule worldwide to administer stem cell research could be helpful. Human embryos for research, somatic cell nuclear move, IPSCs have raised concerns due to their long hatching periods.
How have you managed to deal with the unawareness about stem cell therapy amongst patients and doctors?
We engage in regular interaction and training for doctors. we have recently launched a workshop model called S.T.A.R (Subspecialty Training in Applications of Regenerative Medicine). The First STAR workshop is slated in January 2020 and is aimed primarily at Applications of Stem Cells in Gynecology. We aim to train approximately 50 gynaecologist though this workshop and raise awareness for regenerative medicine. similar such workshops will be done for different specialities throughout the year for enhancement of knowledge.
Have you received any funding or are you bootstrapped?
Advancells is completely bootstrapped. We invested closer to US$5 mn as initial investment.
What are the future plans of the company?
Advancells is a profitable company and generating good amount of revenue. Hence, we aren’t looking to raise funds as of now. However, we are focussing more on tie ups and JV’s, etc.
We aim to become a global leader in offering every patient with highly customized and progressive solutions to save their lives.
The goal is to turn Advancells into the most primary force in regenerative medicine not only in India but in the world. Healthcare spent in the world in more than $8 Trillion and regenerative medicine has the potential to change this spent dramatically. We want Advancells to have the largest chunk of the pie in the near future.