Pooja Venkatesh is Co-CEO and Co-Founder at Next Big Innovation Labs, a startup of enthusiastic individuals on a mission to confront the world’s most challenging problems in the healthcare space.
Nora Toure: Pooja, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
Pooja Venkatesh: Having done my Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and Master’s in Management from Cass Business School in London, my tryst with 3D printing began when we started Next Big Innovation Labs.
The company started with a vision of impacting the next billion, through the disruptive technology of 3D printing in healthcare. Thus began our journey, with the founding team coming from an interdisciplinary background of engineering and biotechnology, we sought out to understand the need of the hour in the scientific community, particularly in the field of 3D printing.
Our interactions with doctors helped us understand that 3D models of various aspects of human anatomy were highly sought after. These 3D models help the doctor conduct a surgery on the model which not only saves time but also helps in planning and building their confidence before performing critical surgeries.
These 3D models are created by converting a CT or MRI scan to a 3D printing file by the Next Big Innovation Labs team using our own custom algorithms. We have provided 3D models of skulls which have been used to train medical students in Ethiopia as part of ‘Training for Trauma’ program.
Upon further interactions with doctors and researchers, we realized that there is a growing need for customizable implants which would be made from biomaterials that could mimic the human scenario.
This led us to explore the niche area of bioprinting, where 3D printing technology can be modified to handle biological materials and print them with micron-level precision. With the combined expertise of engineering and biotechnology in-house, we built our own bioprinter under the Make in India Initiative.
Using our in-house built bioprinter we are developing our first line of product which is 3D Bioprinted Skin (Innoskin®). Innoskin® aims to be a viable alternative to animal testing in cosmetic, clinical and pharmaceutical R&D.
While interacting with researchers from India who are working on 3D bioprinting, we realized that there were some key problems they faced, foremost being the high cost incurred while purchasing a bioprinter from outside India, secondly the lack of optimal servicing from these companies. We were able to address these challenges by developing ‘TRIVIMA’ India’s first customizable bioprinter, for researchers working in the space of 3D bioprinting, keeping in mind their research needs.
Read the rest at Women in 3D Printing