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`New biotech policy in 6 months'

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(From left) Mr Dharam Singh, Chief Minister of Karnataka; Mr Heimo E Richter, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany; Mr M.K. Bhan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology; and Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson, Vision Group on Biotechnology, Karnataka Government, at the inaugural of Bangalore Bio-2004 on Sunday. — G.R.N. Somashekar

Bangalore , July 11

THE Centre is expected to frame a new biotech policy within six months while a regulator for the sector will be in place within two years.

Dr M.K. Bhan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology told a conference on biotechnology on the occasion of Bio-2004, that a regulator will be in place within two years and the Centre will start enforcing the intellectual property rights (IPR) next year.

Earlier, at the inaugural event, the chairperson of the Vision Group on Biotechnology, Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, said nearly one million jobs are expected to be created by 2010 and around Rs 1,000 crore worth investments will be poured into the biotechnology sector in Karnataka within two years. Around 100 exhibitors from 15 countries are participating in the three-day event.

The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr Dharam Singh, said the State had decided to grant Rs 10 crore this year for setting up the Rs 100-crore Bangalore Helix, the proposed Biotech park in Bangalore which is expected to be completed in the next two years. Mr Singh said the State had sought around Rs 50 crore from the Centre for setting up the park and the rest of the investments will be through partnerships. He said the State had allotted 100 acre of land for this purpose which is worth Rs 25 crore.

Later addressing a press conference, Ms Shaw said the initial funds from the State would be used for setting up of the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) and Centre for Human Genetics at the biotech park. She said the biotechnology sector was disappointed with the Union Budget as the crucial request to exempt the 40 per cent customs duty on imported equipment for R&D in biotech sector had been ignored.

Ms Shaw said there were 240 biotech companies across the country, of which 110 were located in Karnataka. Export revenues of biotechnology firms based in Karnataka shot up 43 per cent in the last fiscal year, she said. Export revenues rose to Rs 750 crore during 2003-04 compared with Rs 520 crore during the previous year (2002-03). Total revenues of biotech firms in Karnataka grew to Rs 1,500 crore during 2003-04 compared with Rs 1,400 crore in 2002-03.

Ms Shaw said during the last financial year, 25 new biotechnology companies were set up in India of which 17 were in Karnataka.

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