Startup for Doctors: New ICMR Policy
With an aim to entrepreneurship and startups in India in the field of medical and science, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Health Research (DHR), has on 25th February 2022, brought out some new policies and guidelines on Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship are the key components for the development of a country. Because of the Indian government’s initiative of Make-in-India, there has been a growing recognition of the essential role of innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels, be it national, state or institutional level.
“This policy is envisaged to give a one little push with big impact on government’s initiative of Make-in-India, Start-ups and also not to forget Atmanirbhar Bharat. I hope that the Make-in-India products developed by inter-disciplinary group of doctors, bio-medical innovators and engineers by adoption of this policy will benefit poor and vulnerable groups in the country and help in furtherance of sustainable development goals”, Dr Manshuk Mandaviya, Minister for Health and Family Welfare.
The governments have taken several important initiatives at all levels that focus on supporting innovations and entrepreneurship in higher educational institutes, for instance, Start-up Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Scheme for Facilitating startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP), etc. Many centres have also been set up to foster and grow biomedical innovations.
Enabling the convergence of the medical field may hold the potential for their conversion and translation into commercialization. Academic institutions cannot fulfil this conversion on their own. To achieve this target, an institute needs help from various areas of expertise in the medical field. For promoting inter-disciplinary research, there was a necessity for policy intervention.
As per the Startup India action plan, the following conditions should be fulfilled to be eligible for the same:
- Being incorporated or registered in India for less than seven years and for biotechnology startups up to 10 years from the date of its incorporation.
- Annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 25Cr in any of the preceding financial years.
- Aims to work towards innovation, development or commercialization of new products.
- A company should not be formed by splitting up or reconstruction of a business in existence.
- It shall obtain certification from the inter-ministerial board set up for such a purpose.
- It can be incorporated as a private limited company, registered partnership firm or a limited liability partnership.
Role of Experts
As experts like clinical scientists, they play a crucial role for success for the said purpose in biomedical research. They have deep and meaningful involvement throughout the innovation cycle, and they also play a vital role in innovation and its stages of development. Their intervention and advice are necessary for some critical reasons listed below:
- In-depth awareness of unmet needs.
- Ownership of flow of care.
- Clinical validation expertise.
- Long earned credibility.
- Awareness of current experts’ thinking and their consensus.
- They are familiar with the stages of art technology and the gaps involved.
Vision, Mission and Objectives of the Policy
This policy aims to promote biomedical research and innovation at medical, dental, paramedical colleges and institutes and among biomedical institutions by faculty, scientists, students, and research scholars. There is a need to enable institutions to support their personnel and contribute to innovation and entrepreneurship, so these meaningful medical innovations can reach patients who need it utmost.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are challenging in their own ways, as long as institutional policies are designed in such ways that it regulates and controls these activities and do not encourage and facilitate them, innovative output from this will be meagre. Keeping this view in mind, ICMR/DHR aims to motivate the institutes and colleges to facilitate their personnel to innovate based on this policy for innovation and entrepreneurship.
To achieve the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health and well-being and creating and promoting innovation-led entrepreneurship.
To formulate policies for creating innovation and entrepreneurial frameworks at medical colleges and other medical institutions for societal impact.
Objectives of policy
To encourage and promote biomedical innovations and entrepreneurship by medical colleges and institutions, and also by medical professionals, scientists and technologists to nurture and stimulate the development of unmet needs socially impactful technology products for societal benefit.
Features of the policy
It is crucial to develop and bring a comprehensive system where academic surgeons, physicians and trainees can be more effective and be able to find solutions for a beneficial impact on patients.
For the Institution:
The institutes shall establish a holistic approach towards innovation programs that recognizes what motivates the relevant stakeholders and which enables them to receive specific benefits in exchange for their contribution to innovation purpose.
Investments in research and development from the private sector shall be encouraged through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) process such as collaboration. The closer cooperation between government and private research community shall enable more efficient and effective use of complementary strengths, which in turn should generate innovation for health.
The institutions shall conduct workshops and seminars on Intellectual Property Rights, prototyping workshops, and other innovative practices. Awards won by teachers, students, trainees and startups incubated on-campus should also be explicitly commended by the institution.
The head of the institute shall also endeavour to enable the faculty members to maintain a balance between academic and patient care responsibilities and with research and innovation activities. Along with this, equal weightage should be given to acquiring IPR’s their successful translation.
The institutes shall be encouraged to implement inter-disciplinary courses like MD-PhD, ME-PhD, or MBBS-MTech, which will increase inter-disciplinary innovations.
Office of Licensing of Innovation Ventures and Enterprise (OLIVE)
Medical colleges and institutes shall be encouraged to set up OLIVEs to encourage and motivate medical professionals to learn and get involved and take up entrepreneurship at the graduate and postgraduate levels. The OLIVE or its incubated companies may avail funds through various government funding mechanisms like BIRAC, DST, Atal Innovation Mechanism.
The OLIVE shall provide services of CA, CS, Patent agents, attorneys and lawyers and other professional services to the company free of cost or at a discounted rate for the period of the first three years and shall host funding sessions within Institute’s premises for the company. After three years, the company may be spinning off from the OLIVE premises, but the faculty may also be allowed to maintain equity in the company functioning outside the premises.
For the Innovators
The role of faculty members, trainees and researchers as innovators may differ from being an owner, direct promoter advisor or a member of the startup. The innovator is expected to be the owner and shareholder of the company, and also hold the position of a Non-Executive Director on board while simultaneously working as faculty, researcher and trainees. Also, they may take the full-time role of scientific advisor CEO, onboard executive director, member etc., in the company only after taking sabbatical leave from the institute.
They may avail maximum leave of one semester per year, which may be permitted to the faculty member and innovator. It may be extended to a period of 2 years based on the decision of the committee.
The innovator may act as licensor to the business, whereby the business pays the recurring licensing fee or any other benefit sharing to the faculty, researchers, trainees for the intellectual property created by them. The innovator shall ensure that their duties and responsibilities conform to the institute’s policy regarding conflict of interest and commitment.
The innovator may undertake projects which may be Public or Private funded, that could be conducted at the medical colleges or institutes and are managed through their companies.
The expected outcomes of this policy are development and growth in national and international rankings of medical colleges and institutions. And also, this policy will pave the way for students and academicians to a successful career path. It will also encourage the startup boom in-country, Make-in-India, and Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Edited by Prakriti Arora