BIRAC’s 6th Foundation Day: Experts discuss market driven pathway for sustaining innovations

The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) marked the completion of its six years by organizing an event at Delhi where stakeholders from bioscience industry deliberated over sustaining innovation and its flow to the market place

The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan addressing at the inauguration of the 6th Foundation Day of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), in New Delhi on March 20, 2018.

New Delhi: The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) celebrated its 6th Foundation Day on 20th March in New Delhi. Themed as ‘Sustaining Innovation – A Market-Driven Pathway’, the event was attended by a large number of dignitaries from the scientific and industry sectors both from within the country and overseas.

Inaugurating the event, the Chief Guest, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences and Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India said, ‘BIRAC has played a critical role in supporting the entrepreneurial aspirations of brightest minds in the country through its programs and mentor support networks in keeping with the Government’s mandate. It is through these efforts that we are able to develop affordable products and technologies that will better the lives of our people. I commend the work of BIRAC and am convinced that this is only the beginning of success.’

The Guest of Honor, Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Government of India said, ‘The role that BIRAC has played in bringing together healthcare, entrepreneurship and science has been pivotal. From affordable devices or diagnostics to treatments, BIRAC supported innovators and technologies are on their way to changing healthcare in India and beyond.’

Through the course of six years, BIRAC has supported over 650 projects, more than 500 start-ups, & entrepreneurs, and 30 incubators across the country, resulting in over 100 products and technologies and 150 Intellectual property rights being generated.

‘A 6th Foundation Day is a testament to the commitment of the organization to its mandate, in this case, bringing together innovators and entrepreneurs, mentors and peer-networks with the goal to harness the power of biotechnology to do good for society.’ said Dr Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Secretary Department of Biotechnology and Chairman, BIRAC.

The event also saw the felicitation of Prof. G Padmanabhan, Former Director and current Honorary Professor of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, on the occasion of his 80th birthday and the release of the second volume of his memoirs, titled ‘Doing science in India: My second innings’.

BIRAC implements its mandate through a wide range of high impact initiatives, providing access to risk capital through targeted funding, facilitating technology transfer, and supporting intellectual property management and handholding schemes for biotech firms to make them globally competitive.

‘BIRAC has over the years facilitated the creation of a vibrant startup ecosystem. We are pleased that today on we are seeing the impact of this ecosystem in not only providing affordable solutions for societal problems but also enhancing innovation competence. It is now important to develop robust pathways to sustain these innovations’ said Dr Renu Swarup, Senior Adviser, Department of Biotechnology and Managing Director, BIRAC.

BIRAC has over 10 flagship schemes that are supported by funding from the Department of Biotechnology and manages 7 collaboratively funded programs with international partners, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Nesta, the Wellcome Trust and USAID, among others. BIRAC tries to galvanize the social impact by piloting research and extension services within a series of thematic calls and other global definite initiatives to improve public health and beyond.

The event also witnessed the announcement of the preliminary winners of the SoCH (Solutions for Community Health) awards. This award is an innovation challenge award which was launched on the MyGov portal in September 2017. This challenge has two themes, platform technologies for reducing disease burden (communicable and noncommunicable diseases) and sanitation and waste recycling. The winners will now have 6 months and rupees 15 lakhs to develop a minimal viable prototype and will then compete for the larger rupees 50 lakh award within their categories.