Centre counts on Big Data to grow biotech

Minister for Science & Technology Harsh Vardhan withSecretary of Department of Biotechnology, K. Vijay Raghavan,addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Ramesh Sharma  

By harnessing the power of Big Data and promoting the manufacturing of laboratory equipment, the Department of Biotechnology expects biotechnology to be at the foundation of a $100-billion industry by 2025, rising from the current $7-$10 billion.

The government expects this growth to be largely led by industry and it will play the role of facilitator, in terms of attracting quality manpower and putting in place competent regulatory processes, said top officials at the launch of the National Biotechnology Development Strategy, 2015-20. “It does appear to be an ambitious task and projecting from current levels, it does seem far-fetched,” said K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary of the department. “The vision we have in place, however, should help us achieve it.”

He emphasised that critical steps to achieve this would be to ensure that projects were adequately and promptly funded, besides getting biotechnologists and researchers to be more ambitious with their research proposals.

Science Minister Harsh Vardhan added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was eager about the potential of biotechnology in societal change. Two critical pieces of legislation championed by the DBT — the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill and the Human DNA Forensic Bill — are yet to make it to Parliament.

The BRAI Bill is hanging fire over doubts whether the body would be a disinterested arbitrator of genetically modified products and the DNA Bill over controversies it has caused about violating individual privacy. “These issues have mostly been resolved, and the BRAI Bill will be cleared by the Cabinet soon,” Mr. Harsh Vardhan said.

The NBDS, by 2020, expects to launch four missions in healthcare, food and nutrition, clean energy and education; create a technology development and translation network across India with global partnership, including five new clusters, 40 biotech incubators, 150 technical transfer organisations and 20 bio-connect centres.

The NBDS is the result of consultations over the past two years with more than 300 stakeholders, including scientists, educators, policy-makers, industry, voluntary and non-governmental organisations, regulators and international experts.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 2:55:44 PM |

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