Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has been established by Government of India as a Public Sector Enterprise under Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in March 2012 to foster and nurture the Startup Ecosystem and promoting Academia-Industry Collaboration in Biotechnology.

BIRAC, through its various funding schemes, supports all stages of product development right from a proof-of-concept demonstration to product commercialization. The schemes support entrepreneurs, start-ups, Companies and academic institutions, to work on research ideas that have translational potential. The details of Programs undertaken and their output during the last three years and the current year including funds allocated may please be seen at Annexure – A.

The Department of Biotechnology has a major focus on the promotion of Biotechnology through Research & Development and also in terms of Human Resource and Infrastructure Development. The key areas of support are Research and Development, Demonstration, Product Development and Commercialization, Capacity building through Human Resource Development and Infrastructure strengthening.

DBT’s major focus is on building the Centre of Excellence in different areas. DBT also has 16 Autonomous Institutions under its administrative control with a focus on promoting and strengthening Biotechnology through national and international partnerships. The key activities supported under Human Resource and Infrastructure are enlisted below.

The biotechnology sector is recognized as the key driver for contributing to India’s $ 5 Trillion economy target by 2024. The biotechnology sector, mainly due to its multi-disciplinary approach holds the potential to provide an array of solutions for challenges in Health, Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Industrial Processes. This includes innovative solutions for various societal challenges, use of biosimilars for helping millions of people around the world in battling life-threatening medical issues, development and manufacture of vaccines for nearly 60% of global immunization.

Improved crop varieties for increased production and providing better yields to the farmers while reducing the dependence on heavy consumption of water and energy. Industrial biotechnology is being channelled to produce biofuels that can help in ensuring a cleaner environment. Biotechnology impacts each sector and the Biotechnology Sector in the country is growing rapidly.

The Biotechnology research and development activities involving the use of rDNA technology and/or hazardous microorganism are being regulated in accordance with Rules for the manufacture, use, import, export & storage of hazardous microorganisms, GE organisms or cells,1989 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) established under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology to monitor the safety of on-going research projects and activities (including small scale field trials, import, export etc) involving genetically engineered organisms.

This information was given in a written reply by the Minister of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on September 23, 2020.

(With Inputs from PIB)

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