This Start-up Provides Genetic Screening For Newborns, Adults; To Raise Series A Funding In 2-3 Months
Sanghamitra MandalJan 21, 2014, 01.04 PM
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It is said that every newborn faces a potential risk until the baby has been screened for
Simply put, newborn screening (NBS) programme includes testing every newborn soon after its birth, to identify serious or life-threatening conditions which may lead to mental/physical retardation or even early death. The affected baby looks healthy at birth as there is no external defect and these disorders cannot be diagnosed until specifically tested for. However, India is yet to implement a
Understandably, not too many Indian start-ups operate in the NBS space and the
Who runs Navigene (navigene.in): Two co-founders - Dr
Navigene was set up by the two co-founders in April 2012, along with IncuCapital's senior venture partners' team of
But going forward, the start-up plans to open sales offices in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad - small facilities for operational and logistics management. As sample collection is generally done by the people themselves or the
What inspired the venture: The knowledge that non-traditional, highly accurate and revolutionary ways of medical diagnosis is possible through genetic screening and diagnostic techniques. Navigene was founded to bring these advanced
What's the pitch: Early and accurate prediction/diagnosis of disorders and ailments in newborns and adults, through preventive genetic screening - so that every individual has the opportunity to manage his/her health. "Over the years, we have learnt a great deal about how genes function and how they can cause certain problems. Now is the time to use that knowledge in exciting new ways to prevent and treat
How it works: Navigene currently caters to the B2B segment -
As for newborn screening, parents get the kit as soon as they register and after the birth of the baby, either the hospital staff or the parents collect the urine sample of the baby on the 3rd day. It is then sent Navigene's central lab in Mumbai where the sample is analysed and reports are sent within 4 days. If the report detects any abnormality, the concerned doctor/hospital/parents are immediately informed and further consultation could be arranged with medical experts. Genetic counselling for the parents is also offered in such cases.
Show me the money: As of now, the start-up has a B2B revenue model in place while the B2C space is essentially serviced through its partners who can reach out to more people. Navigene charges fee per sample testing and its flagship solution, Navigene Baby Screen (NBS), which tests urine sample for 110 disorders, costs Rs 5,000. But to make it more affordable for Tier II cities and smaller medical facilities, customised packages start from Rs 900 for tracking 3-4 basic disorders and can go up to Rs 2,700 for screening 31 commonest disorders that affect infants in the first few months. The company has also tied up with a leading stem cell company for instant access to a large B2C market. "Plus, we want to work with the state governments when they start running the NBS programme at the state-run hospitals, but we will keep the packages small," says Dr Rishi.
The market size is also huge as around 30 million babies are born in India every year. "As of now, we are targeting 40 cities in India where our addressable market (a fraction of the urban population in these cities) is around 30 lakh babies a year. We aim to cover most of them over the next 3 years through our proprietary sales channel," adds Dr Rishi.
Claim to fame: A value driver in a critical industry while expansion is its forte. Navigene is a pioneer of sorts, bringing crucial preventive health screening for newborn babies at an affordable price. The start-up is currently doing 500 samples a month and targeting 10,000 samples in the next 3 years.
Navigene raised an undisclosed seed round with the help of its institutional co-promoter IncuCapital in August 2012 and it will be raising Series A
The start-up has hit
"We are also working on some breakthrough
Biggest challenge: According to Dr Rishi, there's no real competition here as very few companies in India focus on genetics (metabolomics). As for the newborn screening business, a few labs who do screening through blood sample testing could be competitors, but they use an entirely different technology platform and can track a maximum of 45 disorders. However, creating awareness among prospective clients is currently the biggest challenge.