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From Being an Innovator Founder to Being an Investor, Read this Journey in the Field of Biotech Arun Asaithambi has recently established Jaia Tech Ventures along with Anand Asaithambi in India to support and empower startups and innovators in the technology and healthcare industry through angel investments

By Nishikanth Samarth

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It is said that strong nation-states are built because of their enterprising citizens. India is on its journey to witness the fastest growth in the upcoming years, and it is becoming possible because of some great, enterprising young minds.

India is growing in the field of biotechnology, with advancements in areas such as gene editing, immunotherapy, artificial intelligence, bio-manufacturing and personalized medicine. India has talented youth professionals who are ensuring continuous innovations.

Talented CEOs and founders working in the Biotech field are creating wonders. Some of these, with their enterprising attitude, are also becoming innovators and investors in the field of Biotech.

Arun Asaithambi is one such innovative biotech Founder turned investor who is on a mission to revolutionize healthcare.

He has been an innovator. He is transforming the industry through entrepreneurship and bold investments in emerging technologies and start-ups. Having successfully founded innovative biotech startups for over a decade in the US.

Arun founded Lantern Pharma Inc, USA [NASDAQ: LTRN], in 2013 and was their CEO and director until 2019. Dr Asaithambi is also an active early-stage biotech investor.

As an 18-year-old teenager growing up in Tamil Nadu, India, his journey, fueled by his father's cancer diagnosis and early death at a younger age, led him to pursue a PhD and postdoctoral research in the US in the areas of drug discovery and computational biology.

During his research studies, Arun realized the challenges in developing novel drugs, their high costs and their limited effectiveness. This inspired him to establish Lantern Pharma Inc. with scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA, aiming to accelerate drug discovery and development, make it more affordable, and personalize treatments for the right patients not just in the US but also potentially applied worldwide.

As the founder and CEO, he conceptualized and led the company's early-stage growth by developing innovative AI-driven biomarker discovery technologies and biomarker-based clinical-stage precision drugs. Arun's original thesis was that several good drugs showed promise in clinical trials but failed to meet the FDA's cutoff for approval. By identifying and retrieving such shelved drugs and rescuing them using modern computational techniques such as machine learning and biomarker-based diagnostics, we can then target them to a specific responder patient sub-population at a fraction of cost and timeline and accelerate approval. Arun conceptualized and, with the help of his team, developed a computational algorithm to identify responding patients for specific drugs. Lantern also identified and in-licensed several promising 'shelved' drugs to be rescued.

The company eventually did an IPO in 2020 and got listed in NASDAQ to support the clinical advancement of their lead drug development programs in multiple cancer indications guided by a biomarker under an experienced management team. The company has raised more than $100M in both private and public rounds of funding in the US since its inception in 2013 and is one of the early pioneers of AI-driven drug discovery.

Arun was a 35-year-old young entrepreneur when Lantern went public in NASDAQ; this success motivated him to become a seasoned angel investor with a keen interest in early-stage startups that demonstrate a strong focus on innovation similar to Lantern. Dr. Asaithambi has already backed around 20+ biotech startups in the USA and globally as a stakeholder, angel investor and Limited Partner, including Hypergiant Industries Inc., Mission Bio Inc., and Lantern Pharma Inc.

Arun has recently established Jaia Tech Ventures (JT Ventures) along with Anand Asaithambi in India to support and empower startups and innovators in the technology and healthcare industry through angel investments. JT Ventures seeks to find innovative solutions and early-stage companies in the seed and series A stage that can improve the quality of life for people in India and around the world.

Jaia Tech Venture is exclusively interested in Indian research-driven entrepreneurs with or without a Ph.D. who are working on disruptive deep tech solutions that address unmet needs in the industry. These startups leverage emerging technologies such as automation and machine learning to create novel solutions that have the potential to revolutionize their respective industries. Some of the current investments of JT Ventures include Fleek Technologies, Landeed, and IVEPOS in India. JT Ventures helps startups with investments, advisors, global expansion and partnerships.

Though investing in early tech start-ups is risky, Arun believes that rewards can be significant. Novel precision drug therapies, medical devices, AI & automation, semiconductors, space technologies and advanced software development are some of the key areas of focus for Arun.

While investing in any company, thorough due diligence is done by Arun and his team. Investing in companies that have a strong team, a clear vision, and a viable business model is always preferred. Such strong early-stage start-ups can quickly grow and scale. This can also deliver sustainable returns for investors.

With tools for early disease detection, improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs, biotech holds tremendous promise for a better world and healthcare. We can expect to see even more transformative advancements in biotech and other deep-tech areas that will positively impact human health, quality of life and well-being in the years ahead. Continued investments in biotech and other deep-tech research are going to bring health and technology equity for all, including emerging countries like India.

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