Context: The Union Minister for Science & Technology inaugurated the second edition of Global Bio-India-2021 in New Delhi. 

  • The theme for this year is “Transforming lives” with the tag line “Biosciences to Bio-economy”.
  • It will  showcase the strength and opportunities of the India’s biotechnology sector at national level and to the global community. 
  • This event is being co-organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India along with its Public Sector Undertaking, and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in partnership with Invest India.

Significance of India’s biotechnology sector:

  • The Biotechnology sector has emerged as an integral part of the Indian economy over the past few decades.
  • The Government of India is playing a transformative and catalytic role in building a USD 150 billion bio-economy by 2025
  • The sector is recognized as one of the key drivers for India to achieve its USD 5 trillion target.
  • By virtue of being close to life sciences, Biotech is the closest to human welfare.
  • India’s bioeconomy or bio-based economy might grow to $100 billion in size by 2025 from $50 billion in 2018 on the back of innovations in biotech and efforts made by all stakeholders.
    • Bioeconomy is a progressive branch of social science that looks at integrating the disciplines of economics and biology for creating theories that could better explain economic events using a biological basis and vice versa.
  • India’s biotechnology sector holds around 3 per cent share of the global biotechnology industry and has more than 600 companies along with more than 2,600 biotech startups, according to the Invest India platform.
  • The efforts of the Biotech sector for its role in the mitigation of Covid-19 pandemic was evident by delivering COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and other solutions in an unprecedented time line. 

Other initiatives for fostering innovation:

  • FDI in Biotech sector: The government has allowed 
    • 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route for greenfield pharma, 
    • Up to 74 per cent under the automatic route for brownfield pharma and beyond that under the government approval route, 
    • 100 per cent under the automatic route for medical devices manufacturing as well. 
  • BIRAC E-YUVA scheme engages a number of Universities and Technology Institutes to serve as Mentors. 
    • This will help to create a pan-India network to encourage a larger number of student entrepreneurs.
  • BIORAC (Biologically inspired resilient autonomic cloud): It aims for the development of resilient distributed systems which is essential for maintaining stable business and state-run processes due to information systems now underpinning most aspects of society. Cloud computing is now one of the most pervasive usage paradigms. 
  • BIRAC’ S Bio-Nest programme to support setting up of bio-incubators for offering incubation space to startups, enable interactions with industry, mentorship etc.
    • These initiatives have helped innovators to create a pool of intellectual wealth (260+ IP filed) and has supported the launch of 200+ products and technologies in the market”.
  • SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions), provides institutional support to the activities of the Honey Bee Network.
    • SRISTI has added GYTI platform to encourage innovations for grassroots and other sectors of India to encourage technologies that are frugal and on verge of technological breakthrough.
  • Honey Bee Network has been scouting and supporting grassroots innovators also through SHODHYATRAS all over the country and encouraging under-graduate students to work on their innovations as well as on traditional knowledge through BIRAC supported Biotechnological Innovation Ignition Scheme. 

Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) 

  • It is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
  • BIRAC’s aim is to play a transformative and catalytic role in building a US$ 100 billion Indian bioeconomy.