New Delhi: The series of announcements were made by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) on the 4th Foundation Day aptly themed ‘Scaling Bio-Entrepreneurship: Foundation for Sustainable Future’. These included a string of partnerships with domestic and international organizations to support, fund and scale-up available technologies with a focus on health and agriculture.
Major highlight was the Foundation Day Lecture by Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan, Executive Vice Chairman, Infosys.
The event was well attended by stakeholders from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government, Industry, Academia and Foreign Embassies. The dignitaries included Prof K VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology and Chairman, BIRAC; Dr Renu Swarup, Senior Adviser, Department of Biotechnology and Managing Director, BIRAC; Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras. A number of panel discussions will be held on Monday, 21st March, to discuss mechanisms to accelerate progress on different levels on the innovation pipeline, from concept to commercialization of the product.
BIRAC is a not-for-profit Public Sector Undertaking, set up by DBT, Government of India as an interface agency to support emerging biotech enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation, to address nationally relevant product development needs.
BIRAC has so far supported nearly 300 start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and 170 young entrepreneurs for innovation, research and product development. Nearly 100 entrepreneurs have been supported for medical technology innovation and 29 products and technologies have been developed and commercialized by BIRAC support.
Prof K VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology and Chairman, BIRAC said, “Research and innovation are crucial drivers of change. It is important to empower and strengthen existing biotech firms and encourage social entrepreneurship. Through the partnerships announced today, we aim to facilitate the development of innovative, high quality affordable products that can transform our lives for the better.”
BIRAC announced collaborations with the following organizations: Nesta, the UK’s Innovation Charity, to create an India focused seed fund within the Discovery Award Programme of the Longitude Prize at Nesta, which would create a pipeline of Indian innovators for competing in the coveted Longitude Prize – a challenge programme having a prize fund of 10 Million Pound, to help solve the problem of global antibiotic resistance; Tekes, the Finnish funding agency, to improve competitiveness of Indian and Finnish industries through promoting collaboration in different phases of the knowledge innovation chain; Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) for a joint funding programme to support innovative technologies for sustainable horticulture at a global level; and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)to mentor the BIRAC’s social innovators and assess the impact of BIRAC’s social innovation initiatives and strengthen the impact of the same.
“Cross pollination of ideas and knowledge between organizations sharing the same vision can accelerate progress towards our targets. Encouraging innovation and research, especially in social spheres, is vital for our country. BIRAC, since its inception has supported several social entrepreneurs and we are committed to creating an atmosphere where innovation is encouraged and nurtured,” said Dr Renu Swarup, Senior Adviser, Department of Biotechnology and Managing Director, BIRAC.