Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Biotechnology and the Start-up Era

India’s fastest growing knowledge based industry, the biotechnology sector, has been in the spotlight over the past several years. With a vast talent pool of trained scientists and engineers, world class R&D institutes with access to cutting edge technologies and India’s inherent manufacturing cost advantage, the country’s biotechnology industry is expected to hit an average growth rate of around 30 percent a year and touch $100 billion by 2025.

The optimism and expectation surrounding the industry owes much to the strong focus by Central and State governments on creating biotech hubs to tap the entrepreneurial and innovative talent of industry professionals. The Startup India initiative launched on January 16, 2016 has given a further impetus to the momentum created by the Make in India campaign. The key challenges to biotech innovation were lack of funds, high capital intensity needed to launch startups and the resources required to sustain the long gestation period between ideation and end product manufacture. To meet these challenges, the Department of Biotechnology and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) have provided funding support and incentives for the development of biotech incubators. Other noteworthy steps taken to create a nurturing ecosystem include creation of University Innovation Clusters, innovative funding by Small Business Innovation Research Initiative (SBIRI) and Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programs (BIPP) where the Government partners with the industry on a cost sharing basis to support the development of high risk but innovative technology. Results indicate that this concerted effort to ensure that the biotech industry achieves its enormous potential has started paying rich dividends. As per figures published by the Department of Biotechnology, there are more than 240 start-ups and innovators and 89 incubatees in the country.

The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RCGB) is an active participant in India’s race towards developing an innovative, versatile and cutting edge biotechnology sector. RCGB-managed Bio-Nest technology and business development incubator at KINFRA Biotechnology Park in Kochi is a 50,000 square foot business incubator where a dynamic environment exists for biotech start-ups. The objective is to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, nurture emerging ventures and to assist entrepreneurs to forge appropriate link with other biotech companies, academia and government.

Bio-Nest also provides the overheads that start-ups often lack. This includes management, administrative and back office support. Freedom from the nitty-gritty of running an establishment and access to funding, research and technology provided by Bio-Nest gives entrepreneurs and innovators the opportunity to concentrate on product development, marketing and sales. This comprehensive support will help India’s young tech generation to breach new frontiers of innovation in the biotechnology sector.

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