When a communications pundit went on a limb to infuse his innovative thinking in the country’s medical equipment industry, he knew that he would be biting a bullet!!
Bluntly speaking, a myriad of challenges underlies the Indian medical equipment industry.
Scaled as the fourth largest medical device market in Asia and counted among the top 20 globally, the industry, on the surface presents an exciting business horizon for both multi-national as well as a national player.
However, we are still circling around the regulatory/legal issues, unjust import and export tax and regulation structure, design engineering narrative, contrastive geographical distribution and specifically the import-driven approach of the industry.
Moreover, this approach has barred local manufacturers and many multinational companies have seized the opportunity to establish their footprints.
Although the uncertainties and challenges of the industry make it hard for new inventions and discoveries to set in, that couldn’t disturb the focus of the person who was determined to make a tangible positive difference by combining his vision with action and delivering a significant impact.
This is the story of a duo- Malay Dikshit and Dr Trupta Dikshit and their concept, Piscium® Health Sciences Pvt Ltd, the Dental & Medical devices innovator and manufacturer that gave the world first-of-its-kind Alpha Nano-engineered Diamond Dental Burs.
Malay Dikshit is an eminent name in the Marketing and Communications spectrum.
After earning his Masters in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Malay signed up for a management course at IIM-Lucknow.
Throughout his professional stint, Malay has contributed his marketing, innovation and R&D deftness to leading brands, globally.
After spending his formative years in sales and marketing in Reckitt and Cadbury, he chaired key roles at Moet Hennessy Diageo in Malaysia and Singapore.
Later, in 2015, Malay joined Tata Sky as its Chief Communications Officer. After about three and a half years there, he bid farewell to Tata Sky to pursue his dream and added the new chapter of entrepreneurship to his life.
We interviewed Malay Dikshit, MD & CEO at Piscium® Health Sciences who leafed us through the journey of the start-up and the road ahead.
What is Piscium offering under its hat?
Our current portfolio consists of Dental burs and alginates.
Our Alpha Nano diamond burs are made by fluting the metal followed by growing a synthetic diamond film on them.
This process makes them deliver smooth, accurate preparations and efficient procedures.
We have a product and process patent for the same.
Dental alginate impression material is another must-have in the dentists’ office.
We developed this product from scratch using help from the Institute of Chemical Technology-Mumbai.
Apart from the formal validation studies, we validated our products with numerous dentists and got encouraging feedback.
Alongside, we are also working on launching Nano-engineered implants, burs for ortho and neurosurgical applications, Nickel-titanium root canal files and a lot more.
In the Indian biotechnology sector, what is the most significant issue you foresee in the 2020s?
Biotechnology based products require patience and a steady flow of money before they see commercial light.
Uncertainty can either make us choose the tried and tested or it can be the biggest driver for innovation.
For the latter to happen, the entrepreneur, the investor and the customer, all must remain steadfast in their support to each other.
An appetite for innovation in these testing times could well unlock India’s biotechnology opportunity and make us world leaders.
How is the company adapting to the COVID-19 in its daily operating model? What has it been like for your employees?
This is undoubtedly an extremely tough phase. But we used this time to create a wider portfolio of burs, useful across procedures like cavity preparation, crown preparation, root canal treatments and minimally invasive procedures.
We took feedback from dentists and continuously improved our products and processes.
Like in other manufacturing companies, our employees need to be present on the field or at works.
Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, we have been repeatedly training our employees about how the virus works.
We also keep them updated about different prevention and treatment protocols announced from time to time, an actual status update about hospital beds, medicines and vaccines and how they can ensure their family stays safe.
We have found that they appreciate this effort and have quickly adapted to different preventive measures including the continuous wearing of masks and use of sanitizers while at work. We also fumigate the shop floor every week.
What does your company do now in response to COVID-19?
We were about to go commercially live in March 2020 and then the pandemic derailed our plans.
We quickly developed a sanitizer, found a third-party manufacturer who agreed to make our formulation.
We got it certified for its efficacy and took ‘The Can’ around town to various customers.
Since the quality was good, we found good uptakes by hospitals and banks. It contributed to sustaining ourselves during the lockdown.
During the second wave, we learnt and got the hang of how to keep our medical representatives protected while they are on the field.
Dentists are willing to meet med reps who are masked up and are serious about safety.
A steady trickle of burs and alginate sales have begun.
Also Read: Changemakers of Tomorrow: Leadership Lesson with Sayantan Chatterjee, Co-founder-Beatest
Has COVID-19 accelerated the company’s digital transformation, as it has at many other companies?
Even as our processes run in strict accordance with ISO 13485, we are quite a paperless organization.
Our entire data – be it process records, quality management system, sales management, accounting, meetings – all happens on the cloud. We started digital!
What were some accomplishments from your company?
Piscium holds a patent on Nano Engineered Dental Burs. This bur is the first of its kind in the world for in-vivo use.
Piscium’s R&D efforts have helped us to get the elite DSIR recognition.
Our research findings on Nano Diamond coatings have also been published in scientific papers.
Our company is ISO certified and our Alpha Nano Diamond Bur is CE Certified.
How do you anticipate the Indian biotech industry will change in the next year and beyond?
The investor community has just about warmed up to the Biotechnology Industry.
The much-needed policy and financial push from the government have given entrepreneurs like us the confidence to venture into this space.
Very soon the Biotechnology industry ecosystem is going to get as mature as the IT and AI ML-based services.
While the Biotechnology sector is typified by longer gestation periods, it is an all-weather revenue industry.
Not only is the domestic market huge, but also India could very well be a global medical supplies hub.
What is the company focusing its efforts on today? What are the plans associated?
As we speak, our efforts are on to increase manufacturing capacity scale up our operations.
Continuous product improvement is an ongoing process. Our growth will be driven by geographical expansion and by introducing at least two innovations every year.
Finally, before we close, what is that one life wisdom that you would like to share with everybody?
Given the right quality, customers in India take pride in buying products made by Indian Start-ups.