Govt pitches for larger private sector involvement to boost biotech industry


New Delhi: In sync with the government’s playbook for bigger private sector involvement across vital sectors, the draft national biotechnology development strategy 2020-25 has called for higher engagement with startups and leveraging public–private partnership (PPP) model to grow the biotech industry to $150 billion by 2025.

Currently valued at $63 billion, the biotechnology industry is looking at a revamp, with the government’s impending focus on product development commercialization ecosystem, including strengthening lab infrastructure in tier-2 and 3 cities. The new playbook to be adopted include engaging with the private sector and adopting a PPP model for co-development, the proposed policy, reviewed by Mint, stated.

According to the document, the government aims to build and nurture a vibrant startup, entrepreneurial and industrial base in the country, connecting the academia and industry.

The draft strategy formulated by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology is looking at building capacities, both human resource and infrastructure, to cater to the current needs and also to the future emerging technologies considering the covid-19 pandemic.

The strategy document said the pandemic has indicated that the focus has to continue on, “strengthening and nurturing of a strong basic research innovation driven ecosystem across Research Institutes and Laboratories, both public and private sector, with complete engagement of Start-ups, Small Industry, Large Industry and also reaching out to tier 2 and tier 3 cities.”

The strategy document also talked about promoting the translation and product development commercialization ecosystem which necessarily needs to engage public and private sector and also encourage PPP models of co-development. This will require special focus on moving research leads from Laboratory towards technology development, it said.

“With the current growth trajectory of the sector we are confident that India will be within the top five countries globally and be recognized as a Global Biomanufacturing Hub by 2025, with the Sector growing exponentially to achieve a growth of $150 billion,” said the strategy document.

The larger aim of the government for boosting biotechnology industry is to build and strengthen a strong education, research and translation ecosystem across the country and to make India a global player for the development and deployment of new and emerging technologies. The document further states that the government aims to position India as a strong bio-manufacturing hub for innovative, affordable and accessible products for the society and also for global markets.

India is ranked amongst the top 12 biotech destinations in the world and third in Asia. The Indian biotech industry is likely to experience significant growth due to increasing economic prosperity, health consciousness and a billion-plus population base.

At present, the biotechnology industry in India comprises less than 3,500 biotech startups and is estimated to reach 10,000 by 2024-25. The biotech sector is primarily divided into five major segments– bio-pharma, bio-services, bio-agri, bio-industrial and bio-informatics, which together contribute to the bioeconomy. Biotechnology industry growth in India is primarily driven by vaccines and recombinant therapeutics at present.

The biotech departhas been actively engaged in the development of covid-19 vaccines. Last week, union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan clearly said the government was looking at larger involvement of the private sector in delivery of the covid-19 vaccine. NITI Aayog, government’s policy think tank has long been promoting the PPP model for overall improvement of the healthcare service delivery and other sectors as well.

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