Cibinong-BRIN Public Relations. The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) introduces a program for start-ups in Indonesia under a new scheme, Research-Based Start-up Company Funding (PPBR). This program is one of seven research and innovation funding schemes launched by the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) since 2021. Announcement of the funding recipient candidates and socialization of this program was made virtually at a Webinar on Research and Innovation Facilitation and Funding (WALIDASI), BRIN Start Up edition on Thursday (17/02).

One of the proposals from start-ups that passed the selection is entitled “Partners for Testing, Research, and Development of Microbiology Laboratories in Indonesia”. The proposal was submitted by a partner of the Eijkman BRIN Molecular Biology Research Center, PT. PIPETIN Indonesia, a startup engaging in the business of medical microbiology.

Ageng Wiyatno of PT. PIPETIN Indonesia said that Indonesia has seen natural changes and exploitation by humans to meet their own needs. According to him, this condition will increase interaction between animals and humans. “These are factors that can lead to emergence of viruses that are transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis) and neglect of tropical nature (inactive). Indonesia is known as one of the countries with hotspots that make it highly possible for the emergence of zoonotic viruses,” he explained.

In addition to threat of viruses, another threat is anti-microbial resistance. A study made in 2016 estimated that by 2025 10 million people would die every year, while data analysis in 2019 shows that antimicrobial resistance has already been a major cause of death globally and higher than that of HIV and malaria. “over 97,000 people in Southeast Asia died in 2019 as a direct result of antimicrobials. Is Indonesia ready to face these challenges? Based on this research, the threat predicted to happen in 2050 will be sooner materialized,” said Ageng.

He said, there have already been many laboratories set up throughout Indonesia that can deal with disease-causing pathogens. According to him, these laboratories are still limited in conducting analysis of common pathogens. Moreover, he added, these laboratories have yet to be able to culture pathogenic organisms and exotic organisms.

Ageng further explained that one of institutions that has the ability to analyze pathogens is the Eijkman Molecular Biology Research Center. “We took the initiative to set up a start-up company in the field of medical microbiology initiated by infectious disease researchers from Eijkman who have a vision to strengthen research capacity and examine medical microbiology in Indonesia,” he explained.

He added that PT. PIPETIN Indonesia provides three service pillars, that are consulting, guidance, and training. The types of services provided consist of laboratory analysis techniques, clinical and biomedical research assistance, laboratory risk assessment, laboratory design and development, biosafety-biosecurity training, and dual use research concerns and bioterrorism.

Other services in the testing and research collaboration are examination and characteristics of pathogenic microbes, antimicrobial resistance testing, serotyping and multi-locus sequence typing of bacteria, targeted testing, and metagenomic Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), as well as research collaborations. PT. PIPETIN also provides biotechnology products and laboratory support equipment.

The challenges faced in running this start-up company, as Ageng admits, are the difficulty to find sources of raw materials and facilities in developing the products. He hopes that BRIN will continue providing support through the Eijkman Molecular Biology Research Center. “BRIN can provide a foundation for PT. PIPETIN to actively collaborate and compete in strengthening Indonesia’s capability in the field of medical microbiology,” concluded Ageng. (yl ed sl)