Supporting startup ecosystem is the way to go

CSIR earmarks ₹400 crore as innovation fund

April 14, 2019 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST - HYDERABAD

A.V. Rao, founder and CMD of Avra Laboratories, Shekhar C. Mande, CSIR Director General, and Rakesh Mishra, Director of CSIR-CCMB, at a panel discussion held as part of AIC-CCMB first anniversary in the city on Saturday.

A.V. Rao, founder and CMD of Avra Laboratories, Shekhar C. Mande, CSIR Director General, and Rakesh Mishra, Director of CSIR-CCMB, at a panel discussion held as part of AIC-CCMB first anniversary in the city on Saturday.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has set aside innovation fund of over ₹400 crore, which would be utilised to support the startup ecosystem. CSIR Director General Shekhar C. Mande said the fund would be released in a few months.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held on the occasion of one-year anniversary of Atal Incubation Centre- Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (AIC-CCMB) here on Saturday, he said no such fund was allocated earlier for startups and innovations were supported by them on case-by-case basis.

“But now, we are taking a definitive step to promote innovations, especially those that arise out of CSIR labs,” Dr. Shekhar said.

Recalling his interaction with CCMB students, the CSIR Director General said they asked him about a range of job opportunities that are available for Ph.D-holders. While earlier, one had to either pursue postdoctoral research or take up a job in academics after Ph.D, now he/she has major opportunities in entrepreneurship. He added that one of the powerful ways to create jobs was startups.

In one year of the AIC-CCMB, eight startups were incubated, which work on diagnostics, food, pharmaceuticals, and drug discovery.

“Many of us scientists work at a primitive level of technology development, which is quantified in terms of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Typically, in labs like ours, we work with TRL 1,2,3 and what industry prefers us to deliver is TRL 9. The industries will not come to us until we have TRL 9,” Dr. Mande said at a panel discussion on ‘Overcoming apprehensions of life sciences industries in institutional innovations’. He added that one of the powerful ways to fill the gap was to promote startups.

Other speakers at the panel discussion gave suggestions to entrepreneurs on what they can do if they are working on an idea.

Chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech Krishna Ella said science and technology constitutes only 10% of business, and emphasised that the understanding regulatory work was important. He urged the younger generation to work towards getting India recognised as an innovative country.

Ishita Agarwal, manager, Atal Incubation Mission, NITI Aayog, A.V. Rao, founder, chairman and managing director of Avra Laboratories, Rakesh Mishra, Director of CSIR-CCMB, participated in the panel discussion.

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