Fibroheal Woundcare Pvt. Ltd founded by Vivek Mishra (Founder, Director & CEO), Bharat Tandon (Co-founder and Director) and Subramanian Shivaraman (Co-founder & Director) in 2017. Based in Bangalore, Fibroheal is a biotechnology oriented healthcare startup with focus on the use of biocompatible silk proteins based biomaterial for advance & active wound care management.
What was the vision and inspiration behind setting up Fibroheal? How did you come upon the technology?
Silk is one of the oldest fibers known to man, it has a history as the richest fabric itself! There are silk sarees which are more than 100 years old and are used for many generations even today; which highlight its excellent fabric and material property. When it comes to exploring its non-textile use, the application of silk in the medical field started in the 19th century when it replaced traditional metal wires as a suture material.
Today, silk is studied extensively for its biomedical use. It is the most diverse, model biomaterial due to its remarkable properties like high mechanical strength, biocompatible, non-cytotoxic, thermo-stable, low-immunogenic and biodegradable.
India is the second-largest silk-producing country in the world. Karnataka alone produces nearly 70% of the country’s total mulberry silk. Sericulture farming provides jobs for about 10.6 Lakh people in Karnataka directly and indirectly. More than 1.2 Lakh families in Karnataka are depending on sericulture and mulberry cultivation. But a large amount of silk is wasted in the value chain from reeling to weaving which can be utilized to develop products for biomedical use. More than 80 lakh families are dependent directly and indirectly on silk.
We at FIBROHEAL WOUNDCARE PVT LTD always wanted to bring socio-economic multiplier effect with our innovation and work i.e. from Silk growers (farmers side), surgeons (user side) and patients. Since our facility is situated very close to Silk city of Karnataka, having a largest market of silk cocoons in Asia, the sourcing of good quality silk/raw materials for our manufacturing is like at our doorstep & ease. We work on the non-textile application of silk, utilizing the waste and by-products of silk production to develop innovative, low-cost products for patients. At the same time, we are creating employment for many, enhancing farmers’ income and improving the economics of silk production in India.
Secondly, due to increasing ageing population worldwide and the high prevalence of lifestyle diseases and chronic diseases among the elderly and high cost of treatment, we wanted to work on newer biomaterial which can be cost-effective and affordable for patients and at the same time ease the work of doctors/nursing staff in the hospital.
Additionally, we have on-board, two eminent stalwarts to guide us as co-founders, mentors and advisors.
Mr. Bharat Tandon – Founder of Vetcare (Animal nutrition and health company) which was acquired by Provimi and later by Cargill.
Mr. Subramanian Shivaraman – Co-founder of the second-largest sutures company in India called Sutures India (having many sutures along with silk sutures) now known as Healthium Medtech.
Thirdly, the need gap which exists in the present market scenario, more than 85% of MD are imported in India. Being the second-largest producer of Silk in the world, second most populated in the world and depending solely on imports to cater to various wound healing requirements initiated the thoughts. Silk being the most versatile, perfectly biocompatible material and its abundant availability in Karnataka made it an ideal candidate for our research. Moreover, a lot of research happened at various institution levels on silk as its biomaterial applications. We saw the economic multiplier potential of silk – farmers, hospitals and patients. All this put together guided us our path to develop a product which can have a substantial economic impact, can bring down imports significantly and product performance is much superior to the existing imported and marketed products while being cost-effective.
“[…] we are creating employment for many, enhancing farmers’ income and improving the economics of silk production in India.”
What were the challenges faced in the initial years? Any competition?
Like any other startup, we also experienced several challenges as mentioned below.
1. Funding: Initially, we have started our operations in 2017 with internal investment. At later stages, we have been successful in raising some small angel investment, government grants and started generating some revenues from sales.
2. Right hiring: Attracting good talent was very difficult as a startup company due to many limitations. Later we started hiring by good references, going back to colleges, using our connects and old colleagues helped us with the right hiring. And right now we have a robust and dynamic team which is our company’s core strength.
3. Regulatory clarity: To address this we have identified few professionals who have guided and helped us in getting the regulatory clearance, which was one of our prime most requirements.
4. Maintaining liquidity in the company: We have a committed and experienced sales team having excellent hospital and distribution network to operate at ground level where we started selling our products and generating revenues by getting regular business.
5. Research & Technical guidance: We have collaborated with reputed institutions like IISc Bangalore, IIT Guwahati for technical support and guidance for research and development and Dept. HOD`s of few reputed institutions as medical advisors, mentors and key opinion leaders to guide us on market need, products and its performance.
Our major competitors are 3M, Smith & Nephew, ConvaTec, Coloplast, KCI, J&J, Mölnlycke Health Care and Hollister.
We have registered under Startup India, Startup Karnataka, and this helped us in getting benefits in various Govt. tenders to get an exemption for a turnover clause for participation. Since we are registered under Startup India, we listed our company and products on GeM (Govt. e-market place). Additionally, Dept. of Biotech, Govt. of India through BIRAC has supported us in a lot of initiatives. We were also winners of ELEVATE 100, 2019 organised by Startup Karnataka under Dept. of IT, BT & ST, Govt. of Karnataka as one of the most innovative biotech startups and received a R&D grant to support our research. CCAMP under a BIRAC program has supported us through LEAP (Launching Entrepreneurs for Affordable Products) scheme.
What are its applications?
We offer a wide range of silk protein derived wound dressings and products to treat different wound types and conditions.
Value propositions to the customers:
- Indigenously developed a solution for wound healing (Natural biomaterial, bio-compatible and safe).
- Aids faster healing & wound closure.
- Significant reduction in the cost of treatment for patients.
- Offers scar reduction while participating in active healing.
- Faster turn-around rates and decreased load on hospitals.
- Improves the quality of life of people post healing.
- Affordable and easily accessible.
Describe your product line and production capacity? Any eco certifications?
We are one among the few companies working across the globe on this versatile biomaterial called silk proteins. We have indigenously developed patented technological products in our basket. Our research work is well appreciated by the government and supported by Grants and Awards. We offer affordable and cost-effective solutions for wound management. We have successfully launched nine products in the market, and our products are used by renowned surgeons and doctors in more than top 50 major reputed hospitals (like Government, Private, Medical College, Defense, Railway and Autonomous etc.) across India, to treat the most complicated wounds and are happy with the results.
We aspire to be one of the most comprehensive wound care Indian company catering to the entire wound care continuum. We offer products for active and advanced wound care management. Our Fibroheal range of products are used to treat all types of wounds such as clean wounds, non-infected wounds, infected wounds, challenging to heal and slow or non-healing wounds etc. Our products come in different forms such as film, sheet, mesh, foam, powder, ointment, gel etc.
We have built a state-of-art facility, which is ISO 13485 compliant and got a CDSCO license for manufacturing. We have installed automated machines to increase the production capacity with a 10x jump in output (approx. 1 Lakh units per month).
We are an environmentally friendly enterprise, manufacturing the completely biodegradable product. The entire operations are managed in such a way so that there is no minimal impact on the local or global environment.
Your insights on the sustainable healthcare product market in India? Has Covid 19 changed the scenario?
Both globally and in India, the Wound care market is growing at a significant pace year after year with increasing population, lifestyle diseases (diabetes), disposable incomes etc. Moreover, in the current market scenario, there is an emerging need gap, with most medical devices being imported into India, resulting in high import costs. We see a huge potential and sustainable business for products which are indigenously developed, cost-effective and fulfilling the needs of the wound care market.
Post COVID, our business is also impacted, and we hope to bounce back once the situation improves. We have received excellent responses from the medical fraternity, and they are optimistic and positive to support research-driven Indian startups who are making meaningful products and solving genuine problems. However, even during the pandemic, lock-down phase and when business conditions are challenging, we stood by our people, supported them by paying them fully without any pay-cuts or lay-offs. We hope to make a lot of difference and aspire to be the most comprehensive wound management company in the coming time.
Do you export your products? If yes, to which countries?
As of now, we are operating in the domestic market. However, we are in the process of getting CE approval to enter the export market by 2021.
What are your future plans?
We are on a growth trajectory, and our products are well accepted in the Indian market, users are satisfied with the performance of the products, and received fantastic response from surgeons as well as patients. Few newer concept-based products are in the pipeline which we are aiming to launch by 2021. Additionally, we are in the process of getting CE approval for our product range. Post CE certification, we are planning to expand our business & hit the international market, including developing and developed countries.