Biotech sector is a key driver to India’s $ 5 Trillion economy target: Harshvardhan

Sep 24: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has been established by Government of India as a Public Sector Enterprise under Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in March, 2012 to foster and nurture the Startup Ecosystem and promoting Academia –Industry Collaboration in Biotechnology.

BIRAC, through its various funding schemes, supports all stages of product development right from proof-of-concept demonstration to product commercialization. The schemes support entrepreneurs, start-ups, Companies and academic institutions, to work on research ideas that have translational potential. The details of Programs undertaken and their output during the last three years and the current year including funds allocated may please be seen at Annexure – A.

The Department of Biotechnology has a major focus on promotion of Biotechnology through Research & Development and also in terms of Human resource and Infrastructure Development. The key areas of support are Research and Development, Demonstration, Product Development and Commercialization, Capacity building through Human Resource Development and Infrastructure strengthening.

DBT’s major focus is on building Centre of Excellence in different areas. DBT also has 16 Autonomous Institutions under its administrative control with focus on promoting and strengthening Biotechnology through national and international partnerships. The key activities supported under Human Resource and Infrastructure are enlisted below.

Biotechnology sector is recognized as the key driver for contributing to India’s $ 5 Trillion economy target by 2024. The biotechnology sector, mainly due to its multi-disciplinary approach holds the potential to provide an array of solutions for challenges in Health, Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Industrial Processes. This includes innovative solutions for various societal challenges, use of biosimilars for helping millions of people around the world in battling life-threatening medical issues, development and manufacture of vaccines for nearly 60% of Global immunization.

Improved crop varieties for increased production and providing better yields to the farmers while reducing the dependence on heavy consumption of water and energy. Industrial biotechnology is being channeled to produce biofuels that can help in ensuring cleaner environment. Biotechnology impacts each sector and the Biotechnology Sector in the country is growing rapidly.

The Biotechnology research and development activities involving use of r-DNA technology and/or hazardous microorganism are being regulated in accordance with Rules for the manufacture, use, import, export & storage of hazardous microorganisms, GE organisms or cells,1989 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) established under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology to monitor the safety of on-going research projects and activities (including small scale field trials, import, export etc) involving genetically engineered organisms.

This information was given in a written reply by the Minister of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on September 23, 2020.

Details of Activities supported by BIRAC and outcomes during last 3 years:

Annexure A

Name of the program/ schemeFocus AreaStakeholdersBudget (in Crores) (2017- tilldate)Impact
BioNESTIncubation support via grant in aid/capital investment for a maximum of 5 yearsAcademic institutions, Research institutes, existing incubators301.0050                      BioIncubators established  across  the country 549219 Sq.Ft. incubation space created 700+ incubates supported
BIGIdeation to early stage.Milestone based funding for 18 months in the form of grant in AidIndian citizens, company/LLP250.008 BIG Partners engaged to implement the scheme125 new start ups incorporated through scheme supportMore than 50 products/ technologies commercialized through BIG supportMore than 500 innovative ideas supportedMore than 150 IPs have been filed75+ start-ups have raised follow on funding
SITAREIdeation to early stage. Support is in the form of award grantIndian students13.00Implemented through SITARE Partner- SRISTI, Ahmadabad64 SITARE- GYTI Awardees4 Start Ups20 IPs5 Residential Workshops170+ appreciation awardees
E-YUVAPre-incubation, creating an entrepreneurial culture at University Level.Undergraduate and post graduate students11.205 Universities recognized as EYUVA Centres5-10 more centres being inducted30 Innovation Fellows
    8 Start Ups incorporated10 IPs filed
SEED FundEquity fundingStart ups& SMEs29.0016 BioNEST Incubators engaged as SEED Fund Partners55+ start ups supportedCumulative valuation of startups is more than 750Cr.
LEAP FundEquity fundingStart ups& SMEs24.506 BioNEST Incubators engaged as LEAP Fund Partners10 start ups supportedMore than 50% companies have been able to raise external source of funding from Angel, VC, other sources
ACEFundEquity FundingStart Ups, SMEs and large companies62.00Fund size: INR 150 croreNumber of ACE Daughter Funds:6Committed in ACE Daughter Funds: INR82crores

i4 (Intensifying the Impact of Industrial Innovation) programme supports biotechnological product/technology development by strengthening R&D capabilities of start-ups/ companies/Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). The programme is operated through two schemes based on the Technology Readiness Level (TRL):

  1. Small Business Innovation Research Initiative (SBIRI): The scheme was launched in 2005 to boost Public-Private Partnership (PPP) efforts in the country and promotes & facilitates companies to take their established proof of concepts (PoC) towards early stage validation.

Impact of SBIRI from 2017-till date:

Calls Announced10
Projects Supported122
Funds Dispersed20.54 Cr
Beneficiaries Supported144
Products developed21
Products Commercialized15
Patents Filed28
  1. Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programme (BIPP):BIPP is BIRACs Flagship “Late Stage Funding” scheme. It is a public-private partnership scheme that promotes innovative research for development of transformational technologies/processes in the Biotech Sector. The Scheme serves as a launch pad for scaling and commercializing high risk innovations through cost sharing between BIRAC and the industry. No incremental development is supported under BIPP.

Impact of BIPP from 2017-till date:

Calls Announced10
Projects Supported91
Funds Dispersed77.17 Cr
Beneficiaries Supported115
Products developed25
Products Commercialized9
Patents Filed10

Promoting Academic Research Conversion to Enterprise (PACE) Scheme: To encourage/support academia to develop technology/product (up to PoC stage) and its subsequent validation by an industrial partner.

Impact of PACE from 2017-till date:

Projects Supported104
Funds Dispersed32.06 Cr
Beneficiaries Supported118
Products developed4
Products Commercialized1
Patents Filed6

SPARSH is Social Innovation program for Products: Affordable & Relevant to Societal Health aimed at promoting the development of innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems through biotechnological approaches. The programme has already developed clusters across the nation on six thematic areas “Maternal and Child Health” “Ageing and Health” “Food and Nutrition” “Agri-Tech” “Combating Environmental Pollution” and “Waste to Value”. Through these clusters spread across 14 SPARSH centres in 9 states from India, around 33 Social Innovators are graduated and 70 are currently enrolled.

Impact of SPARSH from 2017-till date:

Projects Supported57
Beneficiaries Supported133 including 70 SPARSH Fellows
Employment Generated218
Patents Filed15
SPARSH Centers Established14
New Enterprises created20
Products Commercialized8

The details of the output for the last three years and the current year are as follows:

YearTRL-7TRL-8TRL-9IP filed
2020-2021 (Q1)1117
  • TRL-7- Product/Technology completes late stage validation
  • TRL-8- Product/Technology completes all essential requirements for commercialization
  • TRL-9- Product/technology commercialized (includes technologies out licensed)

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