Biotech to grow to a $100-billion sector under `Make in India': Harsh Vardhan

Union minister for science and technology and earth sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday revived hopes of a biotech revolution in the country, saying that under the Narendra Modi government, the biotechnology sector will grow at an annual rate of 30 per cent making India home to the world's third largest setup in the sector by 2025.

Inaugurating the first phase of the Bio Innovation Centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Tiruvananthapuram, the minister said, ''I see ten years down the road a $100-billion industry which will be the powerhouse of not only India's pharmaceutical sector, but will be on a global scale. At this rate of growth it looks likely to be bigger than the domestic pharmaceutical industry.''

He said the prime minister is monitoring biotechnology very actively as nourishing this sector is crucial to his vision of keeping scientific talent drawn to India.

In fact, the minister said, during his visit to the United States in 2014, Modi had invited the new generation of biotechnology professionals to consider building careers in their country of origin.

''We are talking about building up clusters of growth which would be home to international societies of scientists of all types linked to biotechnology. Backed by the government's liberal FDI policy (100 per cent for greenfield and brownfield), this is a winner situation,'' Harsh Vardhan said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan was all praise for RGCB. ''You have set a high standard research and development in selected areas of biotechnology. The institute has made impressive advances in areas of disease biology and it has a good track record in creating trained competent human resource base in biotechnology.''

The 50,000 sq feet Innovation Centre, set up with an outlay of Rs100 crore, would take forward these basic advances and create an environment where knowledge generated through fundamental research in disease biology and molecular medicine gets translated to innovative new tools and products.

The minister said that the Innovation Centre should become a hub for mid and high level innovation founded on advanced level technical platforms and multidisciplinary core that will seed growth and innovation.

Phase 2 of the BIC, which is also under implementation over 20 acres, will include state-of-the-art research laboratories. It will include an `Advanced Centre for Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics', a 75-bed hospital jointly run with the Regional Cancer Centre, which will offer cutting edge technologies, therapies and clinical trials for cancer vaccines, immunotherapeutics. There will also be facilities for addition therapies such as stem cell replacements, gene therapy, molecular tumor targeting and imaging.

Dr Harsh Vardhan revealed that private sector investment will be drawn to the project. ''RGCB is poised to become a major biotech growth centre because we are offering investors from the biotech and biopharma sectors state-of-the-art, 'test and prove' platforms. They will use these to carry out pre-clinical, analytical, toxicological and biological assays to validate biotech or biological products,'' he announced.