With Sri’s energy, vision, and strategic direction, we’re ready to leap into the next chapter of our growth.
One of the most exciting developments in our year so far has been the addition of Dr. Sriram Kumaraswamy as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product at Nicoya. As we look to enhance global access to high-quality SPR data with our suite of label-free detection tools, his expertise and leadership have been a welcome addition to Team Nico.
Sri brings over 23 years of experience in leading commercial teams through growth and developing biosensor technology, and it has already been a whirlwind of a few months as we’ve begun to leverage his deep understanding of customer needs and shifting biotechnology landscapes. As we near the end of our fiscal year, we thought this would be a great time to sit down with Sri and learn more about the journey that brought him here.
Setting the stage for global reach
Researchers are increasingly looking to streamline R&D workflows to reduce the cost and time required to develop new therapeutics and bring them to market. They are leveraging new technologies to modernize the lab by automating benchwork, miniaturize assays, eliminate low quality leads earlier in the discovery phase, and take data analyses to the next level by using powerful cloud-based software. To meet the growing demand for user-friendly solutions that streamline the drug discovery workflow without compromising on data quality, we launched Alto.
By combining digital microfluidics (DMF), an advanced fluid-handling technology that precisely manipulates nanolitre sized droplets, with nanotechnology-based biosensors, Alto has revolutionized SPR technology. It provides an automated, label-free platform that significantly streamlines the research workflow and generates high quality affinity, kinetics, quantitation, and epitope characterization data.
Now the work begins to bring Alto to benchtops across the world, and Sri’s energy, vision, and strategic direction will be instrumental in helping our community of SPR scientists succeed.
We sat down with Sri to learn more about him, his insights into the current biotech landscape, and his vision for the future.
“How did you end up in the biotech industry?”
S: I did my Ph.D. and post-doctoral work on synthesis and analysis of small molecules and semi-conducting materials. In my first few industry roles, I did organic synthesis and biochemical assay development to create new products for pharmaceutical screening and pre-clinical testing applications. During that time, I was fascinated by the drug discovery and development process and the enormous amount of resources and time spent in developing successful drugs in the effort to cure diseases.
After joining ForteBio, I was able to learn the various steps of the drug R&D workflow in greater detail. As a Product Manager in a life sciences R&D tools company, I felt empowered in the work of understanding pharma customer workflow and developing new products that solved important challenges and changed the way they did their work. In this big ocean of life sciences R&D where important discoveries and cures to various diseases are brought forth every day, my small effort has its place and I find fulfillment in doing my best.
“Why did you bet on Nicoya?”
S: Label-free biosensors have an important role to play in biomolecular analysis and are fast becoming essential to the biophysical analysis toolkit in any research lab. The biggest hurdle in the use of such tools is not even that they are expensive, but the expertise that users have to develop to design good assays and obtain reliable results. I believe that Nicoya is doing a great job of simplifying the use of label-free sensors so anyone with minimal lab training can apply them in their work. I believe in Nicoya’s mission to help scientists succeed and help improve human life.
“What are some of the emerging trends in our market shaping the next decade?”
S: Biopharmaceutical companies are innovating rapidly across the entire drug R&D workflow to reduce time to market and reduce cost of development by enhancing predictability in designing new drugs, increasing use of AI in the discovery process, modernizing the lab to automate work on the bench and do computing and data management in the cloud, miniaturizing assays and testing more earlier in the process to fail poor drug candidates early and thus reduce cost. There are newer drug modalities such as gene and cell therapies in the pipeline that are more effective against the most important disease targets. A decade from now, we may see highly automated labs run from the cloud, personalized therapies in the market and small-scale manufacturing of biotherapeutics and vaccines at the site of a disease outbreak.
“How can we build on our current products to navigate these trends?”
S: Nicoya must continue to evolve its droplet digital bioanalysis format to expand access to every life science research lab that needs the technology, automate the design and optimization of assays to simplify use of the platform by novice and remote users, and miniaturize the technology to bring the analysis of biomolecules from the bench into biomanufacturing processes such as purification and formulation.
“What are your long-term goals for Nicoya, and what challenges do you anticipate we’ll face in meeting those goals?”
S: I would like Nicoya to be a beacon among life sciences tools companies that shows how to bring the customer into the heart of everything we do, whether it is in R&D, manufacturing, marketing, sales or customer service. At the same time, I would love to see Nicoya excel at instilling a sense of ownership within its employees across all functions. Getting there is easier said than done – we have to come together as a team and act relentlessly on our mission to help scientists succeed. We need to be a customer-focused company in all practical aspects of our work and do our best to make customers happy. When we do that, everything else will follow.
“How do you continually motivate your team to strive for the best?”
S: I ensure that our team shares a common goal of servicing our customers, has targets to achieve that are aligned with the overall goals of Nicoya, has contributed to action plans and know their roles well, meets frequently to review metrics, solve problems and track progress, and celebrates successes regularly. When all members of the team work together on a common purpose, take ownership and responsibility, and feel great about their work every day, they are automatically doing their best. I believe that my team is the best and they can do anything they set their minds on.
Unlocking access to high-quality data and simplifying label-free detection are core themes in the future of biotechnology, with vast implications for human life. We’ve been part of this narrative for the past decade, and Sri’s addition is the latest catalyst in fueling our commitment to the future of human health. We’re excited to step into this next chapter of our growth and bring Alto to the forefront of drug discovery.
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