18 August 2019, New Delhi, CERELIA NUTRITECH:
- Malnutrition in neonatal care is virulent in developing countries
- Maternal Anaemia is dangerous
- Child health depends on mother’s nutrition in the natal stage
- Transdermal applications are more effective than oral pills
- CereDerm is the solution to ill effects of oral pills
As per a United Nations Population Fund report India’s population grew at an average annual rate of 1.2% in 2019 totalling to almost 1.36 billion in size.
The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has considerably dropped from 488 deaths per one Lakh births in 1994 to just 174 deaths for the same size in 2015. This signifies better standards adopted by the nation’s healthcare systems.
However a United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME) report said 6,05,000 neonatal deaths were reported in India in 2017. Among the many causes of these deaths malnutrition plays a major role.
Most malnutrition is because of maternal anaemia. Though pills are prescribed to overcome this menace, many feel nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, hence many avoid them, resulting in babies with malnutrition.
This challenge had invited Kiran Vuppala, Ruchi Singh and Dipti to team up in founding Cerelia Nutritech Private Limited on Nineteenth July 2016. Supported by an abled team of professionals and industry expert mentors, the organisation worked on supplying vitamins and Iron through skin as moisturising lotions or cosmetic supplements. The StartUp handbook always states that ‘every problem has a solution’ only the right brain finds it.
In a candid chat, Kiran Vuppala revealed that CereDerm® in the form of a moisturiser is unique as it provides dual advantage of replenishing micro-nutrients reserve and moisturizing effect of lotion.
How does neonatal baby care play a vital role in the growth?
The first 1000 days of a child’s life – from the conception to the 2nd birthday – is heavily dependent on the right nutrition intakes of the mother right from her teens to delivery.
How do you visualise malnutrition as a stigma globally?
Globally, malnutrition causes half the child deaths and it’s estimated that 1/3 of the global population suffers from malnutrition. An indicator of poor nutrition – anaemia (iron & vitamin) – affects half a billion women of reproductive age worldwide.
What are the results of maternal anaemia?
Maternal anaemia in particular is associated with illness and death of both the mother and baby, including increased risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, premature birth and low birth weight.
What is the present scenario?
It is estimated that about 50% of Indian women suffer from anaemia. Normally doctors recommend iron pills for overcoming this deficiency. And in many cases these pills create a lot of discomfort (like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea).
How do you envisage overcoming this pain point?
Our CereDerm® in the form of a moisturiser is unique as it provides dual advantage of replenishing micronutrients reserve and moisturizing effect of lotion. Our line of products are developed through our in-house technology.
How effective is CereDerm®?
CereDerm® not only delivers nutrients directly into systemic blood circulation through skin in a cost-effective manner through a scientifically validated approach proving the bioavailability, establishing safety, toxicity and efficacy in both animal and human models thereby improving bioavailability, absorption and compliance.
How does it help the patients?
This would eliminate most of the psychological & organoleptic barriers associated with the with conventional nutrient delivery supplements like IFA supplements.
Gist about the co-founders:
N V V Kiran Vuppala, post graduate in Biotechnology, the CEO was a SIIP fellow under SPARSH program of BIRAC, DBT, GoI, brings his interdisciplinary experience in product management, investments having 9 years of experiences by working in premier research institutes, reputed academic organisations and MNC’s.
Ruchi Singh, an M Pharm post graduate, the CTO brings combination of sales, distribution & technical experience in product development. She has 4 years of experience and worked as Assistant Professor in VESCOP, Mumbai affiliated to Mumbai University. Both are full-time.
Dipti, a Public Health expert, consultant, and extensive experience in the Monitoring & Evaluation of Health & Livelihood projects, implementation of projects in Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand with funding from UNICEF, USAID etc. helps in Last Mile Delivery.
We together as a team are working on the current project since early 2015. All the co-founders bring their interdisciplinary expertise working in different areas and geographical locations in terms of product development, business, outreach and adoption. We work collectively in implementing the day-to-day activities ranging from writing applications, bringing collaborations, technical activities, administration and financial activities, brand marketing, public policy research, and so on proactively.
What about the team?
Apart from the co-founders, there are 4 employees working in Finance, Strategy and R&D Formulation. Our mentor pool includes Dr. Veena Koul, PhD, Head, Centre for Biomedical Engg, IIT-D, Delhi, Dr. G Bulliyya, Deputy Director, Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Bhubaneswar.
Our advisors include experts from drug delivery, medicine, regulatory, branding, marketing and strategy: • Dr. S Bhattacharji, Former Director CMC Vellore; Presently Director, Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack, Rayagada Dist, Odisha • Shri. V Simha, The Lemelson Foundation • Dr. S Choubey, MD – Founder Director, Transintegra Healthcare Pvt Ltd • Dr. R Carroll, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital • Dr. K Olson, Director at CAMTech (Consortium for Affordable Medical Technology), Massachusetts General Hospital • Dr. Y K Gupta, Ex. Dean of AIIMS, New Delhi, Principal Advisor THSTI and Director, AIIMS, Bhopal.
What is your USP?
CERELIA NUTRITECH envisions augmenting the global efforts for Sustainable Development Goals 2.1(By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round), 3.1 (By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births)and 3.2 (By 2030, end preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births) to alleviate micronutrient deficiency status.
How do you foresee CERELIA NUTRITECH?
Our mission is to develop frugally innovative products for alleviating iron & vitamin deficiency anaemia by engaging the 3 ‘A’s of Indian healthcare namely ASHA (accredited social health activist), ANM (Auxiliary nurse midwife), AWW (Anganwadi Worker) to ensure last mile delivery.
How do you propose to create the change?
CERELIA NUTRITECH is leveraging the seminal shifts in technology, changing consumer behaviour to develop a unique product by transforming a moisturizer into a multi-micro-nutrient transdermal delivery system by integrating Nutritional supplement & cosmetic markets.
What are your incubation experiences?
CERELIA NUTRITECH is presently incubated at DPSRU Innovation and Incubation Foundation (DIIF), New Delhi for product development and is technically guided by members of IIT Delhi and DPSRU University. Also, we have been a part of XLr8 Andhra Pradesh Technology Business Accelerator for advanced business support and mentorship by the IC2 Institute from the University of Texas, Austin.
Tell us where you stand at the moment in the StartUp cycle?
We are in the pre-commercialisation stage and not in the market yet. Currently, we are in TRL-4, Late Prototype stage and are undertaking pre-clinical and toxicological studies using animal models for statutory clearances, as we intend to launch as OTC transdermal nutrient supplement by 2021-22.
What are your business plans?
CERELIA NUTRITECH is in the process of on-boarding partners for its roll-out. Initial discussions are in process with the Indian State Govt. of Odisha, Directorate of Health Services for piloting in the State of Odisha.
CERELIA NUTRITECH has raised non-dilutive capital from Pfizer IIT Delhi IP and Innovation Program, (a collaborative incubation accelerator – co-created by Pfizer and Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi)), Grand Challenges Canada under Stars in Global Health Round-9, Grand Challenges Explorations – India Round-3 (a joint partnership of the Department of Biotechnology and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) – SPARSH (Social Innovation programme for Products: Affordable & Relevant to Societal Health) under SIIP (Social Innovation and Immersion Program) to a tune of approximately INR 1.55 Crore.
Are there any scientific proofs for effectiveness of transdermal delivery?
Pre-clinical studies with vitamin B12 have established a relative bioavailability of 67.9% as compared to oral solution of B12. Permeation of Vitamin D through Strat M, an artificial membrane mimicking skin has been evaluated and has shown promising results.
How is your business acumen in the domain?
Our frugal innovation is an alliance between the Over-the-counter (OTC) and the cosmetic category. Our patent pending technology – CereDerm® is based on scientifically established principles of transdermal delivery which enables delivery of coated micronutrients directly into blood through skin using moisturiser as vehicle for delivery.
Now tell us of your achievements?
CERELIA NUTRITECH has been the recipient of many awards in the social enterprise and healthcare sector, which is a validation that the product-market fit proposed, is viable and workable and the accolades/awards both in national and international forums and are listed below:
- 2019; Selected as one of the 16 finalists in Falling Walls Lab India 2019 out of 144 applications from across India organised by The DWIH – German Centre for Research and Innovation, New Delhi and the DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service.
- 2019; Selected as “Global Top 500 DeepTech startups“, under the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge 2019 and attended the Global Summit in March 2019, Paris.
- 2018; Selected as 1 out of 30 startups to represent India in “Slush 2018” in Helsinki, Finland, as part of Invest India Delegation.
- 2018; “Top Startup Award in Biotech and Pharma 2018“, under the CII Startupreneur Awards 2018 from Jubilant Life Sciences at CII Global Future Business Forum 2018.
- 2018; Felicitated by Smt. Mridula Sinha, Governor of Goa on International Women’s day by COWE & Seaside startup summit.
What are the products markets can expect from CERELIA NUTRITECH?
Our line of products would enable delivery of WHO/UNIMMAP prescribed RDA with improved safety profiles, controlled delivery and reduced dose variation, increased adherence.
We are presently developing vitamin combinations for prophylactic treatment of iron & vitamin deficiency anaemia (B12+B9+Iron; B12+B9); vitamin D (D3+Mg+K2); Vitamin A; general mental well-being (Vitamins B6, B9, B12, C, D, E, A). Cerelia‘s patent applied technology,
CereDerm®, enables simultaneous delivery of water & fat soluble vitamins as well as high molecular weight molecules (above 500 kd upto 1400 kd) into systemic circulation directly through the skin. The technology leverages amphiphilic coating on the nutrients and formulation of nanovesicles (below 300 nm) which enhances transdermal absorption.
What is your personal advice to upcoming founders?
Being successful often means learning from those who have already achieved their goals. Having a mentor is an amazing blessing to an entrepreneur, but not everyone can find one in person.
The young or aspiring entrepreneur should believe in themselves because nothing is more beautiful than making the life beautiful for others. Also, find good people who can stand with you in tough times and deliver more than expected by learning from one’s own mistakes.
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