Dr. Premnath Venugopalan
B.Tech., 1993, Chemical Engineering

Dr. Premnath Venugopalan is currently the Head of National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) Innovations and Chief Scientist at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune. He is also the Founder Director of Venture Center, Pune. He obtained his B. Tech. degree in Chemistry from IIT Bombay in 1999, Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA in 1997. He has also been a Chevening Technology Enterprise Scholar with the Centre for Scientific Enterprises, London Business School and Cambridge University, UK during 2004-05.

Dr. Venugopalan is primarily a Technology Developer (with a polymer science and biomedical engineering focus), Inventor, Innovation Manager, Business Incubation Manager, Startup Mentor and Scientist Entrepreneur. He has guided several initiatives of the Government of India relating to technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Since 1992, he has been professionally associated with several organizations in various capacities including CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune (Scientist; Head, NCL Innovations; Head IPG); Venture Center, Pune (Founder Director); Orthocrafts Innovations Pvt Ltd (Cofounder); Serigen Mediproducts Pvt Ltd (Co-founder); CSIR-Tech Private limited (First Director); Department of Materials Science, University of Cambridge (Chevening Scholar); and MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (Research Assistant).

Following are Dr. Venugopalan’s contributions to his field of work:

• Championing scientific enterprises and technology business incubation: Founded and established Venture Center as one of the largest and top inventive enterprises incubators in the country. Contributed to several national-level and state level initiatives/ policies/ schemes supporting startups. Under Dr. Venugopalan’s guidance the team has won the National Entrepreneurship Award under Ecosystems Builder Category (2019), AABI (Asian) Incubator of the Year (2018) and National Award for TBIs, 2015 – received from the President of India)

• Developing and commercializing innovative biomedical technology: Inventor of breakthrough materials (highly cross-linked UHMWPE) used in orthopedic implants for the last 20 years made by global industry leader Zimmer Biomet and benefiting hundreds of thousands of people every year. Materials for total hip replacements have been implanted in more than 1 million patients to date. Technology developer for porous polyethylene cranio-maxillofacial implants being made by Indian startup Biopore Surgicals for last 15 years. Co-inventor of silk-based bone filling implants and other tissue engineering products. His leadership role led the team win the award for Technology Innovation 2019 for the category ‘Polymers for Public Healthcare’ instituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Government of India) and NCL RF-Cipla Hamied Award for the Best Process/ Product Development (2006)

• Innovation management excellence: Set up and provided leadership to one India’s top innovation management groups in non-profit settings at CSIRNCL. CSIR-NCL was India’s largest patent filing non-profit during 2008-2018. CSIR-NCL’s efforts helped Pune to be listed as 1 out of 3 Indian cities in the WIPO report of World’s top 100 Inventive Clusters of the World released (2017). Set-up and mentored Intellectual Property Facilitation Center in Pune for non-institutional and SME inventors. Dr. Venugopalan’s team has won CII Industrial Intellectual Property Award 2021 for Best Patent Portfolio amongst R&D Institutions and is the winner of CSIR Technology Award for Technology Marketing and Business Development (2013)

Special Memories

When I think back about my IIT-Bombay years (1988-1992), it feels like a colorful, rich and eventful Bollywood movie with glimpses coming back in flashback mode! A great peer group and friends circle in the ChE batch (ChEA Social Secretary), inspiring ChE professors and inspired teaching (Shenoy, Bellare, Khakhar, Khilar, Suresh, Kannan, Raghunathan, Juvekar, Madhavan), Hostel 5 (Sports Secretary, Best sportsman awards, PAFs, Cack sessions, City visits with seniors), NSO Hockey (Appaji, Institute Hockey Secy, Inter-IITs, Bombay Hockey Association matches), Campus (Jogging and Kungfu classes by the lakes) and opportunities to explore interests (like the JNCASR Summer Research Fellowship). Most importantly, I gained a lot of confidence, purpose and friends for life!".