In a significant decision, the government today launched a national programme which aims to turn India into a biotechnology hub and the sector into a US$ 100 billion industry with focus in areas of healthcare, food and nutrition, clean energy and education.

The National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 programme which was launched by the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology is aimed at ensuring strategic and focused investment in building human capital by setting up a Life Science and Biotechnology Education Council which will spearhead the initiative.

Under the programme, which was unveiled by Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan, research will be intensified in the field of vaccines, humane genome, infectious and chronic diseases, crop science, animal agriculture and aqua culture, food and nutrition, environmental management and technologies for clean energy.

The mission is also backed with significant investments to boost creation of new biotech products, creating a strong infrastructure for research and development, commercialization, and empowering human resources scientifically and technologically.

“Before formulating the strategy, we asked for response from people, which included stakeholders only after which we came to a conclusion,” Vardhan said.

A major component of the programme will be training of work force and this includes dual degree programmes which will cover both the aspect of core science and business applicability. It will also focus on enhancing research opportunities in basic, disciplinary and inter-disciplinary sciences, foster global and national alliances.

“The exchange programme will also be thrown open for teachers at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. We are also opening 20 bio-connect centres in universities across the countries, which can help in interface between academia and industry,” Renu Swarup, a senior scientist and an advisor to DBT said.

Swarup added that through the programme, the DBT also wants to create a technology development and translation network across India with global partnership, including five new clusters, 40 biotech incubators.

Vijay Raghvan, Secretary of DBT said the progress of the project will be reviewed and proper mechanism will be put in place to do so.