Department of biotechnology announces BIG scheme for igniting new ideas

The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) will extend support to entrepreneurs with an exciting idea, which may be in the nascent and planning stage, through a Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG).

Announcing this at a press meet in New Delhi today, M K Khan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, invited the attention of all stakeholders in the field to this ambitious scheme.

He said the scheme is designed to stimulate commercialisation of research discoveries by providing very early stage grants for the development and maturation of those discoveries into marketable product or intellectual property (IP), in particular to help bridge the gap between discovery and invention.

The BIG scheme aims at establishing and validating proof of concept and further enabling the creation of spin-offs.

Biotechnology start-ups / entrepreneurs including incubates, students, academician and scientists with industry research experience and/or researcher from academia (Research Institute/University/Public and Private funded) and not for profit organizations with an exciting idea which may be in the nascent and planning stage are eligible to apply for the scheme, he said.

The applicant must be either an incubatee located in an incubator or have a registered company with a functional R&D laboratory.

Only Indian companies incorporated in the last 5 years with a functional laboratory will be eligible. Fifty-one per cent of shares of the company have to be held by Indian/NRI.

Salient features of the BIG scheme are:

  • Provides for high level of discovery and innovation in the biotechnology sector
  • Supports only up-to proof-of-concept stage
  • Funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid limited up-to Rs50 lakh
  • The period for the study would generally not exceed 18 months
  • Funding may also be used for conducting limited market research, patenting costs, working capital during the period, travel, salary etc

BIRAC would invite proposals for ignition grant at least twice a year. The BIG scheme would be implemented through BIG partners across the country. The BIG partners would provide mentoring and hand-holding for activities related to mobilising resources, IP management, legal and contracts and other business development related activities for the BIG innovators. They will monitor targeted milestone and disbursement of funds and also organize workshops, meeting, travel etc.