It was born out of a national shortcoming. One where taking new ideas to market, when the innovator did not want to become an entrepreneur, was papered over forever. This was early-to-mid 2000s. Life sciences innovation in India was contracting into a bolus of agony even as the rest of the world was forging ahead with breakthroughs in food, fuel, drugs and devices. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), set up to work with the industry, had turned into a grant-giving body, like many government agencies. A handful of academics, technocrats and policymakers crisscrossed the country in wide-ranging consultations to arrive at what would become Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (Birac).
Through the Birac-ulors: The odds for India’s only lab-to-market engine
Matching every government rupee with industry rupee, Birac has brought Rs 1870 crore to the tech commercialisation table. After 750 startups, 165 IPs, 35 incubators, 30 products, and much more, should it stick to its economic script or reform?
Birac was set up as a unique public sector enterprise to provide 360-degree support to enable tech development and commercialisation in life sciences, which inspired other govt agencies to fund startups
In eight years, it has created an organised marketplace for bio-translation; a network of 700+ mentors to speed up tech commercialisation
As it now gets into disbursing risk capital, should it pick winners and back them to the market or continue to sustain its industry enablement?
Its challenges are not trivial because, in a stodgy country, people with innovation and product building experience are few and far between