Updated on 31 December 2012
The investment of $50,000 had already become profitable in just three years, clocking revenues close to $200,000 (Rs 160 million). At that point, RAS Life Sciences' main agenda was to make diagnostic kits, and commercialize in-house products. The company had in 2012 got the approval to commercialize the H1N1 detection kit for which the technology was developed by Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
The kit has a number of advantages over the conventional method of detection H1N1 virus. For example, not only the kit was found to be 95 percent sensitive and 100 percent specific in 1,000 samples tested; it also reduced the time to detect swine flu from eight hours (required by conventional method) to less than an hour. This kit is also eight-times less expensive as compared to the conventional one that costs almost $150 (Rs 8,000) per test. The costs can further go down to $14 per test with bulk orders.
A big opportunity knocked at the door for Dr Kumar and his team in November 2011, when a two-billion-dollar French diagnostic company approached RAS Life Sciences. It wanted to penetrate the molecular diagnostics market in India. The company conducted due diligence on RAS Life Sciences over a period of four months and their kits were evaluated in France. Eventually, the company decided to invest in RAS Life Sciences.
"We are now 30 percent holders and the French company holds 60 percent stake and the other 10 percent is held by Dr Varaprasad Reddy of Shantha Biotech. So, we turned multinational overnight," informs Dr Kumar. This decision was taken in July 2012. RAS would disclose the name of the French company in early 2013 after it fully enters into the international arena. "Now, we will be competing with Roche and other MNCs and so this move is important. The French company brings in instrumentation expertise to completely automate the products. So our technologies combined with theirs will be a complete package," says Dr Kumar recounting the tale of his journey well begun.