Central government to fund Bio-IT facility in Bangalore

February 18th, 2009 - 10:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Feb 18 (IANS) The central government would fund the setting up of a Bio-IT facility in India’s tech hub to conduct research in genome sequencing and analysis, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said Wednesday.
The Bio-IT facility will be set up in the newly-built biotech Park by the ministry of communications and IT in collaboration with the Centre for Human Genetics (CHG), the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Studies and Research (JNCASR) and leading biotech firm Strand Life Sciences.

“A major chunk of financial support for the Bio-IT Centre will come from the central government, while the state government will initially contribute Rs.50 million (Rs.five crore) in fiscal 2009-10,” Yeddyurappa said, inaugurating the biotech park Bangalore Helix in the electronics city, about 40 km from the city.

The Rs.1-billion (Rs.100 crore) SEZ (special economic zone) park will house the country’s first Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) and CHG under phase one.

“The research projects will have specific significance on human diseases of relevance to India. The centre’s research activities will reduce the time in drug discovery process by about 30 percent,” Yeddyurappa noted.

The state government’s revised biotech policy will focus on research and development (R&D) activities to replicate the success it achieved in IT.

“The state government will soon announce a revised biotech policy to give thrust to the R&D activities in the emerging sector,” Yeddyurappa said.

In the ‘Millennium Biotech Policy’, announced in 2000, the state had committed to provide infrastructure support to set up these knowledge institutions.

With a mission to catalyse the growth of biotech industry through capacity-building, the institute (IBAB) provides training, incubation and research facilities to produce professionals.

Of the institute’s 100 students, the industry absorbs 75 of them, while the remaining 25 go for advanced research, higher studies and post-doctoral courses.

Though India has the third largest pool of technically qualified manpower, the biotech industry is facing a talent crunch. Out of about 100 post-graduate students in the country, 10 are below average, 70 are average and only 20 are above average. Of the 20 above average, 10 leave the country for higher studies or job opportunities, leaving Indian firms with very little high quality talent.

“The institute attempts to fill the gap between the industry requirements and academic inputs,” state IT & BT Minister Katta Subramanaya Naidu said on the occasion.

The CHG fulfills an important need of education and training in the specialised area of genetic disorder diagnosis. It’s diagnostic and counseling services are most sought after in the country.

The proposed biotech cluster in the park would have state-of-the-art common instrumentation facility and effluent treatment plant besides a convention centre, Naidu said.

The state’s vision group on biotechnology (BT), headed by Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, has recommended setting up of an agri-biotech park at Dharwad, marine biotech park at Mangalore, neutra biotech park at Mysore, animal house at Bidar and phyto-pharmaceutical biotech park in Mysore.

“The biotech hub will play an important role in addressing global challenges posed by environmental issues like climate change and agro-biotechnology,” Shaw affirmed.

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