On Sunday May 17, 2015, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, hon’ble Minister (S&T, ES) dedicated to the nation Phase One of the Bio Innovation Centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology. Shri Oommen Chandy, hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala, was present on the occasion. This Centre is conceptualised as a unique knowledge centre and hub for mid and high level innovation founded on deep and advanced level technical platforms, multidisciplinary cores that will seed growth and innovation. The Centre has come up on 20 acres given at no cost by the Government of Kerala right in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city close to all major medical facilities.
The key goals of the Bio Innovation Centre in the first phase shall include programmes to evolve itself into a hub for research on vaccines and immunotherapeutics, molecular diagnostics and biomarkers, chemical and nano-biotechnology and tropical disease biology. Such R&D strategies will also be accompanied by programmes that impart international quality biotechnology education and training to graduates and postgraduates in science, engineering and medicine.
The biotechnology sector is growing at an annual rate of 30 percent and India is set to become home to the world’s third largest setup by 2025.I am keen on ensuring that 10 years down the road a $ 100 billion industry is established in India which will be the powerhouse of not only India’s pharmaceutical sector, but on a global scale. At this rate of growth it looks likely to be bigger than the domestic pharmaceutical industry.
The hon’ble Prime Minister is monitoring Biotechnology very actively. Nourishing this sector is crucial to his vision of keeping scientific talent drawn to India. During this visit to the United States in 2014 he had invited the new generation of biotechnology professionals to consider building careers in their country of origin.
Hon’ble Minister talked about building up clusters of growth which would be home to international societies of scientists of all types linked to biotechnology. Backed by the government’s liberal FDI policy (100 percent for Greenfield and Brownfield), this is a winner situation. It is noted with admiration that the government and people of Kerala is indeed leading the movement to spread scientific temper and rationalism on a nationwide scale. Since the Chief Minister is himself in charge of the Science and Technology department, and chairs the State Council for Science and Technology, the future augurs well for the state’s R&D institutions.
Phase 2 of the BIC, which is also under implementation, will include a state of the art research laboratories. There will be an “Advanced Centre for Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics”, a 75 bed hospital jointly run with the Regional Cancer Centre, which will offer cutting edge technologies, therapies and clinical trials for cancer vaccines, immunotherapeutics. Also planned are facilities for addition therapies such as stem cell replacements, gene therapy, molecular tumour targeting and imaging.
RGCB is poised to become a major Biotech growth centre because the investors from the biotech and biopharma sectors are offered state-of-the-art, ‘test and prove’ platforms. They will use these to carry out pre-clinical, analytical, toxicological and biological assays to validate biotech or biological products.
Earlier, in the day, the hon’ble Minister called on the Governor of Kerala, His Excellency Justice (retd.) P. Sathasivam, and discussed the prospects of Science and Technology research in the state.
Kerala has a rich tradition of contribution to the growth of R&D institutions in India. During this visit, hon’ble Minister also attended a meeting organized by the Swadeshi Science Movement, which is part of Vigyan Bharti, in collaboration with the State Council for Science and Technology, with the directors and Vice-Chancellors of different institutions and universities connected with science in Kerala. He requested all organisations, whether in the government or private sector, to meet occasionally in order to brainstorm on the prospects for research activity and produce inputs for government policy.