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SKUAST-K launches anticancer functional foods startup



Anticancer functional foods startup

BK News

Srinagar, Dec 22: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir has launched the first-of-its-kind faculty-student startup, ‘Cashmir Biotech Pvt Ltd’, an anticancer functional foods startup, at the Shalimar campus.

The research-driven startup, formulated under the aegis of SKUAST-K Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (SKIIE) Center, aims to design high-value anticancer functional foods from underutilised plants endogenous to Kashmir.

Dr Khalid Z Masoodi, an assistant professor at the SKUAST-K’s Division of Plant Biotechnology, Faculty of Horticulture, along with his two MSc students, Dar Murtaza and Aaqib Hurrah, has founded the startup. Cashmir Biotech has already commercialised its first functional food. Magic Food is considered a safe, non-toxic plant-based futuristic functional food possessing TaxO an anticancer molecule. The startup aims to design high-value functional foods from underutilised edible plants endogenous to the Kashmir Valley.

Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, in his address during the launch function, congratulated Dr Khalid Masoodi and his students for building the significant startup. He said there is tremendous potential for such research-based and innovation-led startups, and the rich bioresource-base present in this Himalayan region can be tapped for producing high-value superfoods, nutraceuticals and medicines to strengthen the bioeconomy of J&K He further reiterated that as per NEP 2020 and NISP the faculty members should take the similar initiatives to encourage and guide their students into developing innovation-led startups and create future entrepreneurs. 

Anticancer functional foods startup

Director Agriculture Kashmir Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal, who attended the launch event, stressed the need for similar Agri-based startups to encourage youth to become job providers rather than job seekers. Director Extension SKUAST-K Prof Dil Mohammad Makhdoomi, Registrar SKUAST-K Prof Tariq Masoodi, Deputy Commissioner J&K Drug & Food Control Shagufta Jalal, Senior Scientist IIIM Srinagar Dr Shahid Rasool; Dr Syed Nisar, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, Dr Malik Sajad Ahmed Associate Professor of Urology at SKIMS and Professor Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Head Division of Plant Biotechnology and various scientists and officers of the university also attended the function.

Developed by Dr Masoodi and his team, Magic Food is a designer food that harbours an anticancer molecule TaxO. It has been developed from an edible underutilised plant which has been used as food for ages in Kashmir but its use has diminished over time.

While providing details, Dr Masoodi says Magic Food targets the androgen receptor (AR), a key gene involved in prostate cancer. AR is a therapeutic target for most of the medicines available in the market against prostate cancer. AR controls PSA, the main marker for Prostate cancer.

“We are marketing the first line of Magic Food- TaxO, and we propose the use of TaxO as a functional food that can be consumed on daily basis by populations vulnerable to prostate cancer. Director Planning and Monitoring and an Expert in Food Science and Technology, Prof Haroon Naik, in his address, highlighted the need for the consumption of functional foods for the prevention of different diseases which have emerged in our population due to changes in food habits.

Magic Food was recently highlighted in the introductory documentary of Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India in its Kashmir Expo Startup for Livelihood. Magic Food got attention from various foreign markets as well. “However, instead of selling the technology, our Vice-Chancellor took the lead under the Government of India’s Make in India, Innovate India and Self-Reliant India initiatives to make way for the first faculty-student startup of the university,” said Masoodi.

Cashmir Biotech Pvt Ltd is incubated at SKIIE Centre, SKUAST-K under NEP-2020 and NISP for commercialising Magic Food.

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Exploring untapped opportunities of Agri-tech startups in Jammu and Kashmir



Agri-tech startups
Mohammad Sarwat Hassnain Alam Khan
Naveed Hamid

Agri-tech startups have a crucial and emerging role in the development of the agriculture sector. They can be used to incorporate various technological developments like data analytics and IoT to improve crop yield, reduce wastage and streamline the agricultural supply chain.

In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, agriculture has a leading and important role in the development and improvement of the economy of the region. Approximately, 70% of the population of the UT is directly or indirectly dependent on this sector. The region with this rich agricultural heritage is primarily dependent on traditional agricultural practices. Yet, the region faces several challenges, including limited access to modern farming techniques and a lack of infrastructure and resources to boost productivity. Irrespective of these hurdles there is a good untapped potential in the Agri-tech startups to flourish. Agri-tech startups have the potential to address these challenges and transform the agricultural landscape of Jammu and Kashmir. They can bring innovative solutions leveraging technology, data analytics, and modern farming techniques. Some of the untapped opportunities they can explore in the region are:

  1. Precision Framing: Agri-tech startups can introduce modern techniques like drone technology, satellite imagery, IoT IoT-based devices to improve and monitor soil health, crop quality and yield, and reduce resource wastage. Various technologies that can be used are:
  • GPS and GIS technologies will help farmers create detailed maps of their field including positioning of the equipment, soil types, nutrient levels and other relevant spatial information.
  • Remote Sensing, sensors, telematics and IoT including technologies like drones, satellites, moisture and crop health sensors provide real-time data like crop health, crop status, environmental and overall field conditions, and remote access to machinery.
  • Variable Rate Technology (VRT) systems can be used to enable farmers to adjust application rates of fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation.
  • Several other new aged technologies including blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning modules and algorithms can help in upskilling the agricultural sector in the region.
  1. Smart Market Linkages: Development and designing of smart and intelligent platforms and supply chains, that can connect farmers directly to the market without any intermediaries can help boost farmer incomes and reduce post-harvest losses. Although, many Agri-tech platforms like Kisan Mandi and the government-led initiative of Kisan Suvidha are available to connect farmers to the market, but have not catered for much of the usage among the farmers of the UT.
  2. Educational Initiatives: Agri-tech startups can also develop applications and platforms that can make farmers aware of the new technologies and practices to promote technological advancement and upskilling of farmers in the region.

There is a compelling need to tap into these underutilized Agri-tech startups for several reasons. Seizing these prospects within Agri-tech startups holds the potential to bring about a substantial positive transformation in the region’s agriculture. The entrepreneurs venturing into the field of Agri-tech can find a good market of opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir. This endeavour offers the opportunity to diversify the economy, reduce dependency on volatile sectors, and create employment avenues. Moreover, this startup can address pressing agricultural challenges, enhance productivity, and increase farmers’ income. Embracing sustainability aligns with global trends and positions your venture as an eco-friendly and responsible contributor to the agricultural landscape in the region.

Strategies to encash the real treasure of Agri Tech Startups 

The younger entrepreneurs venturing into Agri-tech startups need to take these suggestions and inputs in consideration for the growth and development of their ventures. First and foremost is skill, creativity and out-of-the-box mindset. Gather adequate knowledge and expertise essential for the venture and understand the need and applications of above mentioned untapped opportunities in the field. Furthermore, try to develop partnerships, connections and engagements with the associations, institutes, Incubators and government agencies for the concerned field as they can be an invaluable source of support and resources, enhancing the prospectus of success. Also, seeking funds from government schemes and private investors interested in supporting Agri-tech ventures and securing the necessary capital pivotal for the growth of the startup. Lastly, craft the Agri-tech solutions that are economically and practically accessible to the farming community aligning with their unique requirements and aspirations.


 Agri-tech startups have the potential to transform agriculture in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. These startups can contribute to the economic development of the Union Territory and improve the livelihoods of the farming community. Also, the convergence of Agri-tech startups and precision farming practices promises a brighter future for the farmer community, the Union Territory, and entrepreneurs in Jammu & Kashmir. As these innovative practices are embraced, the region can emerge as a beacon of how technology can transform traditional agriculture, ushering in a new era of prosperity and development.

There are a number of incubators in India to support Agri-tech startups but in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, SKUAST Kashmir Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship Centre, one of the brands in incubation is working to build up an ecosystem of Agri-Tech based startups by supporting them in every aspect.

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Kashmir Angel Network holds discussion on startup expectations



Kashmir Angel Network discussion

BK News

Srinagar, Dec 17: Kashmir Angel Network (KAN) Saturday held a stakeholder discussion on ‘startup expectation from angel investors’ at its corporate office here.

The discussion was the second in a series titled KANversations: Unlocking Opportunities aimed to bring together various stakeholders from the startup ecosystem to talk about the issues that exist in the industry as well as the potential that exist in it.

The second KANversation’s primary objective was to have a discussion on the expectations that startups and other stakeholders have of the angel network. During the course of the conversation, participants from a variety of startups, corporate lawyers, academics, and journalists explored a wide range of challenges being faced for the creation of a viable startup ecosystem.

During the course of the discussion, Shabir Handoo, Chairman of KAN, brought up a number of different concerns, including the organisational structure of enterprises in J&K. He stated that “the enterprises may be scaled up to the national and global levels with the correct sort of interventions both financially and legally.”

He added, “Kashmir Angel Network has also begun assisting already-established enterprises with the myriad of legal and regulatory formalities necessary for the development and expansion of the enterprises.”

The stakeholders who were present at the Kashmir Angel Network discussion also discussed the necessity to provide mentorship for the creation of feasible prototypes in new enterprises, as well as the methods in which the notion of Angel Network may be brought to the attention of those searching for investment opportunities.

The discussion also focussed on the various other features of angel networks and the need to provide incubation spaces to early-stage Startups, which provide solutions beyond the plug-and-play facilities.

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Kashmir Angel Network strikes KANversations



Kashmir Angel Network
BK News

Srinagar, Dec 3: Kashmir Angel Network, the first valley-based angel investor group for mentoring and financing disruptive startups, Saturday kickstarted a series of discussions titled ‘KANversations: Unlocking Opportunities’ at its corporate office here.

The aim of the ‘KANversations’ is to bring together different stakeholders from the startup ecosystem to discuss challenges as well as opportunities in the market.

The focus of first KANversation was to discuss the legal framework for the startups including the compliances, regulations and governance. During the discussion, various chartered accountants, corporate lawyers, academics, journalists and startups put across viewpoints for creating a vibrant startup ecosystem.

Chairman, Kashmir Angel Network (KAN), Shabir Handoo, while talking about the initiative said, “The network is a first-of-its-kind initiative from our region and is passionately driven by professionals working across the globe in various leadership roles. It is a network of investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs from across the globe committed to working with startups and existing businesses.”

KAN is focused on providing investment support to startups.

“To succeed, we provide support in a range of areas, including, regulatory compliances, registrations support and advisory, valuation services, financial and legal structuring, mentoring support as well as technology development,” Handoo added.

In his remarks, a globally known educationist, Dr Farooq Wasil mentioned, that KANversations has today opened the doors for dialogue and shall pave the way for strengthening the enterprises and building the network for creating the required change in the startup ecosystem.

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