Kolkata, Nov 13: India aims to scale up start-ups in the biotechnology sector to at least 1,500 in the next two to three years to boost technological interventions in the health and agriculture sectors, a senior biotechnology department official said. “We presently have around 500 start-ups in the biotech sector. It is less in comparison with other sectors. We plan to scale it up to 1,500 to 2,000 in the next two to three years,” said Renu Swarup, department of biotechnology’s senior adviser and managing director of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). She pointed out that there was a growing market for biotech products and services given India’s population and its needs.
Biotech start-ups are into bio-pharma (diagnostics and therapeutics), agricultural (bio-fertilizers, hybrid seeds etc.), bioinformatics and drug development among others. “They are directly or indirectly linked to the health and agricultural sectors,” Swarup told IANS. Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year announced a ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ campaign to promote bank financing for start-ups and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.
“Under the new initiative, if we can create a favourable business environment, we can tap into our own products and know-how for solutions in health and agriculture,” she said. It would also help researchers to become ‘tech-preneurs’. “We have seen good interventions happening in Orissa and Tamil Nadu,” said Swarup. The Indian biotech industry holds about two percent share of the global biotech sector. At present India is ranked 12th in the world in the biotech sector and third in the Asia-Pacific region. By 2017, the size of India’s biotech industry is estimated to increase to $11.6 billion from $4.3 billion in 2012.
Indian biotech entrepreneur Kiran Majumdar Shaw has said that the emergence of biotech start-ups is resulting in a reverse brain drain. Currently, Swarup said, new products have emerged from the Grand Challenges India (GCI) Interventions. The GCI was jointly launched by BIRAC under the department of biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013. “These include improved sanitation technologies and bio-digester designs. Initially, they will be showcased as demonstrations on a large scale and subsequently introduced in the market,” she said.