The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is considering to reserve a certain section of funds from Funds of Funds for Startups (FFS) for biotechnology ventures to promote technologies in healthcare, agriculture, food and nutrition.
The Indian biotech system is still very nascent compared to that of the western world. There is a lack of infrastructure, technology and professional. Various startups have been sprung up to overcome this technology and infrastructure by harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In India, biotech startups are defined as companies in the sector which are 10 years old or less. The Indian biotechnology segment is divided into five major segments, bio-pharma, bio-agriculture, bio-services, bio-informatics and bio-industrial. Increased investment, outsourcing activities, export and government’s focus on the sector can accelerate the growth of biotechnology.
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Since the beginning of the Startup India programme three years ago, the government has spent INR 380 Cr to develop bio-clusters and bio-incubators. Out of this INR 196 Cr was spent on four bio-clusters and INR 174 Cr on 41 bio-incubators through the BioNEST scheme under Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a not-for-profit public sector enterprise under the Department of Biotechnology. Under BIRAC seed fund, 13 bio-incubators were funded for INR 8.5 Cr in the last three years.
Bio-incubation provides infrastructure, technology, mentorship and networking platforms that can enhance the entrepreneurial potential and productivity of startups.
In 2017-18, the DBT also set up a Biotechnology Innovation Fund-AcE Fund (Accelerating Entrepreneurs) with a total cost of INR 150 Cr for three years to attract investment. These steps are intended to plug the gap of the ‘Valley of Death’ encountered by the Biotech startups during their product development cycle and growth phase due to high operating cost.
Previously, DPIIT had also set aside some funds to promote women-centric and women-led startups to promote women entrepreneurs.
Last year India had the third-highest growth in the number of biotechnology-related patents published, and the second-highest growth in the number of medical technology-related patents.