Four Pune-based biotech companies you should know about

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biotech companies Pune

In the rapidly evolving landscape of biotechnology, Pune, along with Chennai and Bangalore, has emerged as an interesting ecosystem of startups and established companies. While the city is not among the biggest biotech hubs, it is contributing to various domains of the field, from vaccine development to sustainable solutions and advanced tissue regeneration technologies. Here are some of the top biotech companies based in Pune.

Table of contents

    Gennova

    Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., based in Pune, India, is a biotech company especially noted for its advancements in mRNA vaccine technology. The company has made notable progress in developing biotherapeutics to address life-threatening diseases across various medical areas. The company’s product portfolio is diverse and includes contributions in areas like cardiovascular diseases, neurology, nephrology, and oncology.

    Gennova has achieved a milestone by developing India’s first, mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, Gemcovac-19. This vaccine is notable for its stability at temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, which addresses a global unmet need by making the mRNA vaccine more accessible, especially in regions where maintaining sub-zero temperatures for vaccine storage is challenging.

    In the field of COVID-19 response, Gennova’s Gemcovac-19, has been a critical development. This vaccine uses a self-amplifying mRNA platform, allowing for a lower dosage and the ability to be quickly adapted to combat different dominant strains of the virus. The vaccine’s development was supported by the Department of Biotechnology under the Mission COVID Suraksha initiative.

    KBcols Sciences

    KBCols Sciences, established in 2018 , is a prominent bioprocess technology and biotech startup based in Pune. The company gained recognition for its innovative approach to creating sustainable textile dyes through bio-fermentation using microorganisms, offering an eco-friendly alternative to traditional synthetic dyes. This significant advancement in sustainable textile processing earned KBCols Sciences a place among the ten winners of the Global Change Award in 2023, highlighting their contribution to environmental sustainability in the textile industry.

    In addition, KBCols Sciences received the National Startup Award 2022, underlining its innovative impact in the sustainable industrial solutions sector. This award was presented by Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal in New Delhi, marking a significant achievement for the startup in the national arena.

    Further affirming its position in the biotech sector, KBCols Sciences attracted an investment of $1.2 million (10 million rupees) from Nabventures, in June 2023. This investment signifies the growing confidence in the startup’s potential and its valuable contribution to the Indian startup ecosystem and sustainable biotech.

    Serigen

    Serigen is at the forefront of developing innovative products for tissue repair, particularly in the areas of orthopedics, breast cancer, and advanced wound care. They use fibroin extracted from silk to create 3D silk scaffolds, optimized for various properties crucial for successful tissue regeneration. This innovative approach has set them apart in the field of tissue regeneration​​. The Pune-based company could bring significant advances in the biotech industry.

    Serigen holds the distinction of being the first company globally to undertake a clinical trial using silk for bone repair. Their product, Serioss, a bone void filler, has demonstrated promising results in preclinical and in vitro studies. Additionally, their other products, Serimat for tissue regeneration and Seriderm for advanced wound care have also shown effectiveness, especially in treating diabetic foot ulcers​​​​.

    The company has been successful in securing decent funding, highlighted by their seed funding round in March 2023, where they raised $700,000 (58 million rupees). This investment will aid in expanding their product portfolio, team, and intellectual property. Their innovative work has also been recognized with awards, such as the Dr. K.H. Gharda Industrial Innovation Award in Polymer Science by SPSI in September 2023​​​​​​ “for having developed the only natural silk-based high strength porous material, that can be used for bone-repair, through a novel process of solution reprocessing of silk”.

    Serum Institute of India

    Established in 1966, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has grown to become the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume. This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, where SII played a critical role in producing the COVISHIELD vaccine, significantly contributing to the global vaccine supply, particularly for low- and middle-income countries. 

    The Pune-based biotech company plans to apply for a license for a vaccine targeting the JN.1 COVID variant, showcasing its ongoing commitment to addressing emerging health threats. Additionally, SII has expanded its vaccine portfolio to include the production of the Sputnik V vaccine in collaboration with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, further broadening its manufacturing capabilities.

    SII is expanding its market reach beyond its traditional focus on lower-income countries. The company is now looking to grow its client base in wealthier nations and is working on marketing vaccines for yellow fever and dengue to European and American travelers. This strategic shift is a significant step towards becoming a global player in the vaccine market​​.

    The collaboration with the Jenner Institute at Oxford University led to the development of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine. This vaccine received a recommendation for use by the World Health Organization (WHO), marking a milestone in the prevention of malaria. SII has established the production capacity for 100 million doses annually of this vaccine, with plans to double this capacity to respond to global health challenges beyond COVID-19.

    The Serum Institute of India’s efforts in vaccine development, strategic business expansions, and significant contributions to global health challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, firmly establish it as a leading and influential company in the biotech industry in Pune.

    Pune: A diverse biotech ecosystem

    The biotech sector in Pune showcases a blend of innovation and practical solutions. The efforts of companies like Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, KBCols Sciences, Serigen, and the Serum Institute of India highlight the city’s growing role in the biotech field. Their contributions, spanning various areas of biotechnology, are not just significant for Pune but also hold relevance on a larger scale, marking steady progress in the industry.

    Pune is a strategic location in India due to its proximity to Gujarat and Mumbai and an established educational hub in India. TCG Lifesciences, with a global presence in the industry, opened an R&D facility in the city. The idea behind this location choice was to leverage the ecosystem of talents and scientific institutions in Pune. The influence of global players could help the biotech field develop in the region and allow innovative companies to spawn in Pune in the future.

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