Mumbai: The AV Birla group is exploring options to enter into yet another new business segment: biotechnology. The group has already initiated talks with the Indian government's department of biotechnology for financing at least half a dozen biotech projects. It is also considering an option of an alliance with different bioinformatic centres in the country.
Say company sources: "Biotechnology is one new area the group wants to foray into. We are considering different options to enter into the new segment. But, currently, there is no concrete plan or proposal." At present, they say, the group is working on over 50 biotech projects and the Birla group is interested in some of them. The government is also considering various incentive schemes for the corporates engaged in biotechnology development in the form of tax holidays.
But the officials decline to give details about the biotech projects in which the group is highly interested. If the talks materialise, the group will provide entire financial support to develop biotech products and in return, the department will transfer the developed product and its marketing rights to the Birla group.
So far, the department has transferred around 14 technological developments and products to the corporates in the last couple of years and it is expected that a dozen more will be transferred to the industry during the year 2002. In India, the research and development in biotechnology is currently focused on segments like pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, textiles, agriculture and food, metals, chemicals and other commodities. According to figures, at present the Indian biotech industry has a market potential of around $1.8 billion. The industry is expected to touch $2.2 billion in 2005 and would reach $4.27 billion by 2010. This, however, is minuscule if compared with the US market, which is expected to grow to $21.5 billion in 2008.