BioSpectrum Person of the Year - Dr Renu Swarup, advisor, DBT and managing director, BIRAC
A passion for taking up challenging assignments in new fields motivated Dr Renu Swarup, a young lady with doctorate degree in genetics and plant breeding and post-doctoral research at The John Innes Centre, Norwich UK, to join a small team of over 20 people at the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), which was a spinoff from Department of Science and Technology and was just three years old then in 1989. From then on, there is no looking back for the lady who has spearheaded many initiatives, projects and programs on different topics at the DBT.
During her career span of 23 years she has initiated many "firsts" at the department such as - the first centre for plant biotechnology at National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) at Pune. She was the part of the team that brought out 60 forestry regulation protocols for 10 million plants. Her role in the establishment of Lucknow Biotech Park, also has been exemplary, for which the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who incidentally represents Lucknow constituency in Parliament laid the foundation in 2003.
Besides being a senior advisor to DBT, currently Dr Renu Swarup has been heading a new initiative of the department - Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a not-for-profit section 25 company of Government of India, set up with the idea to serve as a single window for emerging biotech industry as its first managing director.
Dr Swarup played a key role in getting the new organization created and making it operational. The company successfully runs a large number of funding schemes for industry innovation, ranging from the ignition grant to proof of concept funding, validation and product development. The main focus of the organization is on enabling and supporting the biotech innovation ecosystem. The company is mandated to take discovery forward and encourage the product development by indigenous biotechnological companies.
Dr Swarup considers herself fortunate enough to have worked on the programs such as Small Business Innovation Research Initiative (SBIRI) and Biotechnology Industry Partnership Program (BIPP). These programs were established to support innovation at the level of discovery upto the clinical stage. "When we started these programs long back, our vision was to have a futuristic programs for creating better options to meet the societal needs in the long run. I am proud to say that out of hundreds of projects supported by us so far, about 10 to 11 innovations have qualified for further development."