Several start-ups incubated in Badir Biotechnology Incubator, specializing in the health, medical, pharmaceutical, environmental and agricultural sectors, have developed new medical technologies in line with the Saudi government’s initiatives to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The most apparent of these technologies is the new equipment in disinfection and infection control, besides other technological innovations to check the quality of medical and home sterilizers.
Launched in 2010, Badir Biotechnology Incubator is operated and managed by Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC). Based in King Fahd Medical City, Riyadh, it supports setting up and developing the biotechnology sector in several areas, such as health, medical, pharmaceutical, environmental and agricultural sectors. It further assists Saudi researchers and professionals to establish and develop strategic projects in various biotechnology fields.
Voxel Plus Company, one of the incubated projects in Badir Biotechnology Incubator, has developed an “Economical Disinfection Gate” that is designed to completely sterilize health practitioners before and after contact with the patients. In addition, the company developed digitally customized face masks which adapt to the facial characteristics of the health practitioner.
Moreover, Voxel Plus, managed by Saudi engineer Moath Abu Aysha, designed multiuse respirators using 3D printing technology. These masks are made of antiviral and antibacterial materials to maintain insulation and reduce the number of face masks used.
On the other hand, the “Disinfection Ring”, created using 3D printing technology, is one of the most prominent innovations of this start-up that is used to press buttons in elevators or ATMs.
Furthermore, Voxel Plus invented “Sterilizer at Hand”, a tool made using 3D printing technology that is wrapped around the wrist to carry a sterilizer and reminds the wearer of sterilization.
The company also invented an “Elbow Door Key” which allows the user to open the door with their elbow to protect their hand from gathering germs in public places. Another innovation is the “Forearm Door Key” to help users open pull doors using the forearm to protect the hand from catching an infection in public places.
Another remarkable innovation of Voxel Plus is the “Face Mask”, which is a tool carrying a transparent plastic shield to protect the face of health practitioners from becoming infected in case of direct contact with patients. The “Virus Test” is another innovation designed by the company using 3D printing technology, and FDA approved materials. It is an alternative tool in case the virus tests run out.
On the other hand, the Stability Laboratory, an incubated start-up in Badir Biotechnology Incubator, contributed through analytical laboratory research, analytics, and validation, by providing stability studies on the drugs and formulations that need registration with the FDA. This is the first start-up of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is based on the idea of contractual analysis in the fields of medicine, cosmetics, and health products.
The ISO 17025 certified project, certified by GCC Accreditation Center, specializes in conducting stability tests to check the quality of medical products. The Stability Laboratory concluded agreements with several pharmaceutical, cosmetics, sterilizer, and disinfectant production companies to review their products and verify their quality and effectiveness before being launched in the markets. The start-up played a significant role in detecting some sterilizers that failed to meet the minimum standard requirements or were manipulated.
In this regard, Nawaf Al-Sahaf, CEO of Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC) stated that Badir Biotechnology Incubator is the first-of-its-kind business incubator in the Kingdom and the Middle East.
Currently, it has five labs and provides “Clean Rooms” for the researchers, innovators, and technology entrepreneurs. These rooms, holding international certifications for standards conformity as per ISO requirements, help Saudi incubated innovators and entrepreneurs to create product prototypes of high quality and with the ultra-precision necessary to develop their technology start-up projects.
Al-Sahaf stated that the number of incubated projects stands at 35 by 2019-end, while the number of graduate projects reached 10, covering fields such as pharmacy, agriculture, environment, and medical equipment.
He informed that the total sales of incubated companies crossed over SAR 100 million in the last year. Moreover, several incubated companies managed to collect investment financing of over SAR 75 million between 2010 and 2019.
Since its establishment in 2017, BIAC, a subsidiary of Taqnia, owned by the Public Investment Fund, has established, operated and managed entrepreneurship incubators and accelerators for both the public and private sectors in its capacity as a government company.
BIAC specializes in operating and managing the platforms to support entrepreneurship, innovation programs, and technology transfer. It also manages specialized projects, consultations and training services and promotes human resources skills.