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University Innovation Cluster launched to encourage biotech innovation

University Innovation Cluster launched to encourage biotech innovation

NEW DELHI: India needs to increase of government investment in biotechnology which has a potential to be bigger than IT said Sam Pitroda, the Chairman of the National Innovation Council while he launched the University Innovation Cluster (UIC) on January 22.

The cluster is a joint initiative between National Innovation Council and the Biotechnology Industry Research Council to promote innovation research and empower young entrepreneurs.

Under this initiative Cluster Innovation Centre in Biotechnology will be hosted in five universities selected for the purpose to nurture a culture of applied research and need oriented (societal or industry) innovation among researchers in universities.
These include the Anna University, Chennai, Punjab University, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad.

The government will provide a total of 1.5 to 2 crores per university to scale up the biotech laboratories in these universities and nurture five to six fellows to work on their ideas for three years under the guidance of some stalwart researchers in the filed.

Cluster Innovation Centre in biotechnology

will be hosted in five universities

to nurture a culture of applied

research and innovation

among researchers in universities

BIRAC and NIC aims to scale the effort up to 25 universities in the near future.

The Cluster Innovation Centre will be the nerve centre to manage the University Innovation Cluster activities. Along with facilitating the creation of networks, partnerships between stakeholders to strengthen the innovation ecosystem, the CIC-B is envisaged to provide pre-incubation support to innovative ideas, innovators for effective translation into products thereof. Such support will include technical trainings, IP management, technology business management, access to risk finance among others.

“The aim is to mentor people and help them see their ideas bear fruit. Developing people is central to developing the science and technology in the country and in this context, biology can be transformative,” said Secretary DBT, Professor K VijayRaghavan at the joint press meet by NIC and BIRAC to launch the initiative.

All programs currently operated by BIRAC will be accessible through the UIC initiative and participant Universities will be encouraged to creatively leverage existing programs for maximum gain. The programme would also aim at leveraging existing resources from complementary private and public support programmes, institutions.

An open invitation was sent out to universities to show interest in participating in this initiative. Judging by the potential for success and enthusiasm to take the initiative forward, the following five Universities have been selected to participate in Phase-I of this initiative.

These universities will shortly set-up CIC-Bs and will initiate innovation-focused activities in the near future. With enthusiastic support promised by all stakeholders of the Biotech sector, this initiative is envisaged to start showing positive results as early as the end of the year.

“Fellows will be selected through a national competition. The entire process should be rolling by April this year,” said Dr Renu Swarup, Director of BIRAC.