“The emergence of a sector with the promise to cure diseases and to relieve suffering”
India’s leap towards promoting food security, social progress, and economic prosperity
In recent times the biotechnology sector in India is considered promising, it has evolved because of certain urgencies and necessities. It emerged with the independence in 1947 and since the 1950s India’s Planning Commission has been designing Five-Year Plans revolving around the funding and prioritization of various sectors. In the first Five-Year Plan the focus was on industrialization, the country’s main priority was to replace foreign imports with indigenous production and self-reliance. In the third Five-Year Plan agriculture was promoted to achieve self-sufficiency by increasing food grain production due to the Sino-Indian war and war with Pakistan. It was the time when the seeds of the Green Revolution were sown and for the first time, Indian agriculture was introduced to HYV seeds which enhanced the crop yield. The country understood the importance of utilizing the technology that can improve production and life quality. In 1982, after comprehensive deliberations with the scientific community, a National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) was created by the Government of India to recognize priority areas and evolve long-term perspectives for Biotechnology in India, and in 1986 India marched its way into the world of biosciences and technological advances.
Key segments of the Indian biotechnology sector:
Bio-pharma: Bio-pharmaceutical products are therapeutic or preventive drugs that are derived from elements naturally present in living organisms, using recombinant DNA technology.
Bio-services: Bio-services mainly incorporates clinical researches and CRO along with custom manufacturing.
Bio-Agri: Bio-agriculture incorporates the best of traditional and organic farming with an emphasis on obtaining naturally profitable soils that generate high levels of yield.
Bio-industrial: Bio-industrial predominantly comprises manufacturing or utilization of biological systems to deliver commercially valuable biomaterials and biomolecules for use in medicines, food and beverage processing, and industrial applications.
Bioinformatics: Bioinformatics uses computation for the understanding of biology, it deals with the creation and maintenance of an extensive electronic database correlated with the obtainment, storage, examination, and dissemination of biological data on various biological systems.
The new era of Biology and Technology: Trends in Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a fascinating and interesting field, in the world of science and technology it has already started evolving and establishing itself as a profitable industry whereas in India it is still rising gradually. In the last twenty years of the biotech sector in India, it has undergone a flourishing metamorphosis. It is a scientific field wherein living organisms are used in making products and chemicals which are utilized in a wide range of other industries and to the end-users, the scientific research-based field needs high-tech equipment, a scientific workforce, and well-trained manpower. One of the major components that have contributed to a crucial push and assurance to the sector is the new government initiative of Make In India.
DBT has launched a program called Innovate in India (I3) with a funding of about USD 250 million, the scheme focuses on improving India’s Biopharmaceutical industry majorly concerning the obstructions around affordable and accessible healthcare.
Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Industry
India is an agricultural country, most of the country’s economy is dependent on agriculture which is practiced mostly in rural India. The government has come up with a farmer-centric program that creates a close and helpful collaboration between farmers and scientists called Biotech-KISAN. The program aims at scaling and addressing farming-related challenges with efficient technological methods.
With visionary technology, the DBT ICT Centre lowered the time required to convert Biomass to Biofuel from 4-7 days to 18-20 hours. It produces around 300 liters of ethanol per tonne of biomass, the ethanol can be blended with petrol and can be used efficiently in vehicles.
Environment and Sanitation Industry
The Swachh Bharat Mission focuses on the bioremediation of filthy water to eliminate inorganic waste from municipal wastewater. This technology is also used to discard and filter toxic substances from various industries.
Pandemic catalyzing the growth of Biotechnology Sector
India’s biotechnology industry makes up just three percent of the overall global biotech market. In 2017 Indian Biotech sector was only worth $11.1 billion, by 2018 it had grown four times to $51 billion, by 2025 India is expected to rise to $100 billion which concludes that from being three percent of the global market it leaped to nineteen percent which is almost one-fifth of the world’s biotech. The corona pandemic has unveiled the true importance of the Biotechnology Sector and widened scope and opportunities for the industry but faced problems such as shortage of supply chain distribution. With the demand for vaccines, drugs, and other medical products, the global demand is an optional factor that caused the growth to a significant level. The pandemic also revealed that the sector needs a lot of studies and researchers based on viruses.
India is also leading its way through the pandemic, it manages to supply a great share of global demand for the COVID-19 vaccine with the export of indigenously made vaccines.
Reasons why India could be a leading player in the biotechnology sector:
- Excellent network of research laboratories
- Well developed base industries
- Rich biodiversity
- Extensive clinical trial opportunities
- Trained manpower and knowledge base
An increase in biotech incubators and the establishment of biotechnology parks across the country to ease scientists and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises with technology demonstration and pilot studies have accelerated the commercial development. The National Biopharma mission launched in 2017 targets to make India a center for the structure and advancement of affordable, and beneficial biopharmaceutical products for battling public health concerns. India is globally aligned with its public health initiatives in accordance with the World Health Organization blueprint for Research and Development to address public health issues and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations mission to strengthen the development of vaccines. India has built a public health preparedness system for emerging infectious diseases. India is the vaccine capital of the world and almost 65-70 percent of the world’s vaccines are manufactured in India. The country is committed to take the biotechnology industry to global excellence, it is a collective vision for India to be an export hub. India had already sold medical supplies to more than 150 countries during the COVID-19 outbreak and has embarked on its journey in becoming a global hub for manufacturing by gaining the trust of the world.