CxO of the Week: Manoj Gopalkrishnan, Founder & CEO, ABPL

By : |March 9, 2022 0
Manoj Gopalkrishnan says Algorithmic Biologics will bring the power of molecular information to the lives of billions of people.

In the digital transformation, biotechnology is enabling human life with access to better health and wellness services. Algorithmic Biologics Pvt. Ltd. (ABPL), a Bangalore-based deep-tech startup, is taking the biotechnology industry to another level.

 
Their molecular-based algorithms enable diagnostics with data sciences. Amid COVID-19, the vaccination drives are immunizing individuals against the deadly virus and its variants. Here, ABPL has focused the testing procedure with molecule data science technique and introduced a software, Tapestry.

 
We interacted with Manoj Gopalkrishnan – Founder and Chief Executive Officer – Algorithmic Biologics. He is a faculty member at IIT Bombay as well. Let us hear from the spokesperson about his brainchild, inspiration and plans for the biotech company with CIOL.

 

 

 

According to you, what is the scope of molecular testing in India?

Everything is made of molecules, literally. Molecular testing can reveal information that is critical for healthcare. It can reveal the purity, quality, and authenticity of the food that our children eat. Health and wellness remains the biggest driver having an outsized impact on those who are living precariously close to poverty. By giving better information about factors affecting health, molecular testing can play a very important role in India’s mission to lift the standard of living of such who are at the bottom of the pyramid. It can also help to increase trust in India’s agricultural exports globally, allowing our farmers to command the highest prices and to establish a reputation for quality. Finally, in an age of accelerated climate change, patterns of soil salinity, as well as pest patterns, are changing rapidly. Molecular testing can enable the rapid innovation in seed technology that is needed to keep pace with these changes.

 

Where do you see your company in the coming years?

We want to reinvent molecular testing by bringing intelligence to molecules. In the coming years. Algorithmic Biologics will bring the power of molecular information to the lives of billions of people.

 

How is molecular testing affecting the biotechnology ecosystem? Please walk me through your molecular algorithm accomplishments.

Molecular testing has the same relationship to biotechnology as batteries have with electric vehicles. Namely, better molecular testing is a key enabler for biotechnology innovation. It is a key problem that needs to be solved to fully release the power of biotechnology to transform our lives.

By bringing a software layer to molecular testing, we are for the first-time marrying machine learning with molecular testing. This has already led to 10X improvements in Covid19 screening solutions for large campuses which we have managed to launch commercially in partnership with established diagnostic labs like Thyrocare and Dhitiomics. Our software allows giving 1000 results for 1000 people by testing only 100 pools while ensuring that every sample gets tested 3 times to guarantee very high accuracy.

 

Any five benefits or privileges of tapestry testing and qPCR test?

When campuses have used Tapestry testing, they have saved substantially on costs of testing due to the compression made possible by our algorithms. This has enabled regular testing of all people on campus and has had a marked impact in flattening the curve during the explosive phases of the pandemic as witnessed during the second and third waves.  By now, it is well established that flattening the curve is key to better population-level health outcomes since it helps keep health care facilities from crumbling under a synchronized demand.

Tapestry testing is assay independent and machine-independent so that the gains we have demonstrated for COVID-19 should carry over to many other use cases where they are much needed. We are working on a few such use cases in paid pilots with commercial partners. The impact will be to improve health and wellness outcomes for billions of people.

What do you think is the role of science, technology, and communication in health and wellness? Who are your role models or inspirations?

Health and wellness are on the cusp of a revolution. Science and technology is going to get embedded so deeply in healthcare services that the lines will not just blur but completely get erased.

I take inspiration from Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, who spent his life taking scientific innovations to industrial impact. Another role model is Andrew Viterbi who founded Qualcomm based on research ideas he had generated as an academic. The technologies that Qualcomm created have enabled the world of mobile internet. We want to create a similar impact in the world of molecules using the technologies we are creating, so that talking with molecules becomes as seamless as broadband internet.

 

Please elaborate on your business model.

It is very simple; we tie-up with lab partners to deliver better molecular testing solutions for our customers. Our software solutions are accessed by our lab partners in SAAS mode. The benefits provided by our software allow our lab partners to vastly increase their throughput and accuracy on standard assays and standard machines. Without investing in CAPEX, our lab partners are able to obtain large savings in OPEX and time.

 

How can your business model impact Indian society, lives, and communities?

So many ways! Let’s take one example that is close to my heart: the tea industry, which is one of the largest employers in India. How can Indian tea be made more competitive in the export market, and go from being a demand-driven industry to a supply-driven industry? The signals the industry is getting from the export market have made it quite clear that the tea industry needs to make a high-quality play. To achieve such a high-quality play is going to require precision molecular testing at affordable costs. A similar story holds for the export of so many other spices and commodities from India.

In healthcare, we are dreaming of a nation where our Tuberculosis epidemic does not leave so many of our working population invalid. Healthcare costs have been a big driver in massive suicides across the country, and into families slipping below the poverty line. Better screening and surveillance programs are the need of the hour to give people the opportunity they deserve to rise from poverty.

 

How fluctuating COVID-19 waves can affect your business model?

Our software solutions enable labs to be more productive, independent of the machine or the assay used. This means that we are not a COVID-19 company. COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to serve the community in one way, but there are many other challenges that need our technology.

 

What inspired your funding partners to collaborate with you and any new investors/funds recently?

Yes, we raised a seed round from Axilor Ventures recently. Axilor is well known as one of India’s leading early-stage Venture Capital funds, and we were very happy to get them as partners on our journey. The fit is especially good since they have had a sharp focus on the healthcare sector long before it became sexy from an investment thesis point of view. We are lucky to be partnered with an investor who is aligned with our mission. Apart from the potential for an outsized impact that Axilor saw in us, they also recognized the very strong team that we have put together, including 5 people with PhDs, which is very rare for a company at such an early stage. It is this R&D muscle that has allowed us to make breakthroughs in approaches that have been considered hopeless for close to two decades. Also, they liked very much the multi-use nature of our innovation, so that we could develop once and then make an impact on many problems.

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