Sachin Dubey | Module Innovations
From his conviction to take unconventional decisions back in Jaipur to founding a startup in Pune, Sachin Dubey, the young CEO of Module Innovations is riding high on his infectious determination to bring revolution to diagnostic industry.
Belief is the favorite word of Sachin Dubey, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pune based Module Innovations. He says it is the belief that India must radically transform the medical diagnostics which makes him get up in the morning. And surely Sachin is not just dreaming. Despite being a new entrant, his venture has created a huge impression within Indian diagnostic sector. The well recognized startup has developed highly innovative products including USENSe, a 15 minute, point of care test to determine presence of bacteria causing Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and ASTSENSe, the world’s first 2 hour phenotypic test to determine antibiotic susceptibility profile of uropathogens.
Sachin envisions to change the way UTI’s are diagnosed and treated. His company is trying to complement the existing clinical pathway by aiding clinicians and decision makers with rapid and accurate tools. Explaining the need, he says, “Dubbed as the second highest infections in the human body, UTI’s affect 150 million people globally. However the diagnostic methods are either time consuming or costly. Also, in case of UTI patients presenting in OPD, the prescription is mostly based on symptoms and not testing the bacteria and its sensitivity profile. This is primarily because of the time existing tests take, the need for a trained manpower and other resources.”
Another looming threat that Sachin points out is the anti microbial resistance or AMR which he call a tsunami in making. “Bacteria that were earlier sensitive to common antibiotics are now becoming resistant". Other than over the counter sale, lack and unavailability of rapid bacterial ID and AMR testing devices is one major contributing factor to AMR. The conventional tests for determining bacterial sensitivity towards antibiotics such as culture are time consuming and require a lab and a trained manpower. At Module Innovations, Sachin’s team is trying to bridge this gap, and making rapid bacterial tests.
“For a skyscraper to stand high, bearing the brunt of high winds, tormenting weather and changing times, its foundation needs to be strong. The same can be said for an entrepreneur as is the case with me,” says Sachin who credits the family for supporting his intuition. “Support from my family has been immense, right from when I decided to pull myself back from doing PhD in the United States and moving from Jaipur to Pune.”
Sachin’s venture encountered several roadblocks throughout its journey, funding being one of the primary constraints. Forming the right team was crucial and it took him time to figure out and identify that like-minded and equally passionate team is key for companies success. Investors were not comfortable putting in their money in biotech startups. With initial support from NCL, Pune followed by funding from BIRAC, the company somehow was able to sustain operations. Module has now been supported by funding agencies from around the globe including CARB-X USA, GCC-Canada, Nesta-UK, Tata trusts amongst others.
Two major events set forth the course of Sachin’s journey. During 2012 when he was a student, he along with his team participated in the DBT supported ABLE-BEST, a competition for students in biotechnology and life sciences. From all over India, 20 teams were selected. Competing with teams from IIT’s and IISc, his team entered as underdogs, but the belief and confidence was sky high. They emerged as the runners up bagging price of INR 3 lakh and more importantly instilling the confidence of taking a challenging path. This was the moment when the conviction of forming Module Innovations was born.
Again in the year 2014, when Sachin’s pregnant sister in law contracted UTI, her painful ordeal owing to unavailability of rapid diagnostic opened up his eyes towards the serious problem. Even in a city such as Jaipur, it was not possible to get the UTI infection and AST report before 2-3 days. This incident changed the course of Module Innovations, which is now trying to pioneer UTI and other infectious disease diagnostics.
While he doesn’t belong to any of IITs, Sachin has made quiet a mark in the diagnostic industry. He wants to be remembered as a dreamer, chaser and risk taker. He wants to be remembered as a young lad who is trying to change the diagnostic world with amazing science. A pink city lad, with his B.Tech and M.Tech from Centre for Converging Technologies (CCT), University of Rajasthan who made a difference to the world. “Entrepreneurship and importantly science entrepreneurship was something that lingered in my mind from the day one of university. Some other entrepreneurial stints during college days, made me realize that I need to put in use what I have studied, which eventually paved way for Module Innovations,” he says.
Talking about the learning he had during his entrepreneurial journey so far, Sachin mentions importance of a strong team as his biggest one. This is the reason he involves himself personally whenever a recruitment happens in his company. Another important learning has been understanding the customer perspective. “As scientists we are in love with our science, ignorant of the fact that what customer wants might be something else. It is a good idea to identify and spend time with your potential customers before you devote your heart and soul in developing your solutions,” he adds.
Sachin feels COVID-19 pandemic has made the healthcare stakeholders realize more than ever the need for rapid, accurate and affordable diagnostics like never before, something which he have been advocating since the inception of Module Innovations. “I have always been fascinated by the wonders of science, and the immense potential it holds to change the way we live. However I was always of the opinion that science must move beyond the boundaries of lab, to the market to make the impact it is actually meant for. “Science alone has the potential to change the fate of mankind” drives me everyday and I envision a healthy planet with access to quality diagnostics for all,” he explains.
“Being an entrepreneur is a risky proposition. Being an entrepreneur in science is even more riskier. One saying from my father echoes loud and clear “ low risk low gain, high risk high gain” and for me this gain is the way we plan to change UTI diagnostics and AMR,” says Sachin while sharing his future mission.
Sachin’s most inspirational moment was the day when as a 10th class student, he got to meet ex-president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Talking about the experience he says, “I was curious to ask him the reason of his success and his golden five letter mantra, ‘SWEAT’ changed my life forever. SWEAT when coupled with DREAMS has the power to move mountains.”
Sachin advises young students and aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big and leave no stone unturned to achieve them. “Once these things are there, everything else will start falling in place,” he says in his parting message.
Published by #VOH
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