• 12 January 2010
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Govt to increase science funding to 2% of GDP

While assuring all the support from the government to the innovators working in different areas of research, the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan said the government is looking at doubling the science funding from one percent to two percent of GDP in the next budget.

The minister was addressing the delegates at the Sixth Solanaceae Genome Workshop (SOL 2009), organized by the University of Hyderabad and the ministry of science in New Delhi. In his inaugural address, the minister said, “Overexploitation of land since independence was one of the reasons for the decline in crop productivity. The next green revolution could only happen if we concentrate on developing the means of achieving it mostly through plant biotechnology.”

He was highly appreciative of SOL committee and the work being carried out by them in this regard. He empathized on the need to concentrate on food research in India as compared to fuel research in advanced countries. He assured the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) members that he would be visiting all the major research institutes to see the progress and status of research.

Dr MK Bhan, secretary, DBT, highlighted the importance of plant genomics in his address. He spoke about the genomics being one of the fundamental tool in understanding the basic functions.

Biopharma takes time to pick up in emerging markets

Despite pharma companies’ focus on biotech as a solution to replenish their drying up R&D pipeline, biopharmaceutical drugs would take time to pick up in the emerging markets, according to Simon Friend, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), London. “Emerging markets are definitely opening up for biotech. However, biotech drugs will not reach rock bottom prices if you compare them with their pharmaceutical counterparts. I would not say that they will not reach that stage but it will definitely take time,” he added. This is primarily because of the high investments involved in developing a biotech drug which in turn would not be a solution for affordable healthcare.

According to Dr Stephen  Arlington, partner at PwC, London, in the short-term horizon, despite being the land of opportunities, India would not be a priority market for top global biotech companies because of cost issues. Dr Arlington also added that biotech companies that are looking at business opportunities, need to re-look at their strategies and business models.

Collaboration is one of the principle models that companies will be resorting to and which is already taking place. The PwC 2020 vision report predicts the transition of  business models wherein the typical model of doing everything from research to commercialization will no longer work for pharma companies and to prosper, even the big pharmaceutical companies will look at stepping outside their sector for partnerships and collaborations. “This would also include partnering with bioresearch institutes and diagnostic companies,” added Friend.

On an optimistic note, the partners from PwC added that from a long-term perspective, a huge chunk of innovation would come in from Asia, particularly from India and China.n
BioSpectrum Bureau

CII, USIBC announce healthcare partnership

The Confederation of  Indian Industry (CII) and the US India Business Council (USIBC) have entered into a partnership under the banner of the USIBC-led ‘Coalition for Healthy India’. The partnership was announced on the sidelines of CII’s 6th Annual Healthcare Summit, which was attended by a delegation of senior healthcare executives from the headquarters of several USIBC member companies. 

The Coalition for Healthy India, managed by USIBC, is dedicated to ensuring that Indian patients have access to the latest and most effective treatments and cures. It was created in 2007 to bring together like-minded members from the US and Indian business communities, non-governmental organizations, patient advocacy organizations and health professionals to coordinate and support improved access to healthcare in India.

Qlucore inks distribution agreement with JH BIO

Qlucore, a world leader in the development of bioinformatics software, has announced an agreement with JH BIO, a specialist distribution company that caters to major pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, and universities in India. Qlucore has already experienced a strong interest from the Indian market, with many companies downloading trial versions of its data analysis software.

Qlucore’s latest software, called Qlucore Omics Explorer, has been developed for the life science, agricultural and biotech industry.

Suven spends 29.78% of revenue for R&D

Suven Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in drug discovery and developmental activities in CNS disorders, has announced its unaudited financial results for the half year ended September 2009.

The revenues for the half year ended September 2009 stood at Rs 64.48 crore when compared to Rs 70.80 crore for the corresponding period last year.

Debate on GM food needs to be more balanced

With India’s population estimated to reach 1.3 billion by 2017, the Government of  India estimates that the country might have to overcome a shortage of 14 million metric tonnes of  food grains. Growing population and climate changes have stressed the need to meet the rising food needs by improving India’s crop productivity through the use of  technology and innovation in agriculture.

To address the potential of agri-biotechnology in solving problems and concerns related to food security in India, All India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA), in association with the TERI University, organized a multi-stakeholder workshop on ‘Ensuring food security and agriculture sustainability through advances in agri-biotechnology’ on November 13, 2009, in New Delhi. KV Thomas, minister of state for agriculture, was the chief guest for the event.

Speaking at the workshop, KV Thomas said, “GM technology cannot be avoided and India needs the technology to increase yields and reduce stress to manage the present agricultural crisis and growing food needs.” Emphasizing the need for tackling the situation, he said, “We need to be scientific and practical. We need to improve productivity and bring down the cost of production. Genetic modification is one way to achieve this. GM food should be a matter of choice and the debate needs to be more balanced,” he added.

2000 researchers join OSDD to tackle TB

A unique Indian attempt to pool the expertise of researchers in the country and abroad through a collaborative, sharing model of exchanging key discoveries to find a cure to the dreaded tuberculosis (TB) disease has got a boost with more than 2,000 researcher joining the effort within a short span of 14 months of its launch.

November 23, 2009 is another red letter day in the annals of the program, called the Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD), launched in September 2008, when the 2000th member joined this network. In fact, on this day the total number of people on this collaborative effort stood at 2,011.

The initiative is mentored by the director-general of India’s publicly funded research agency, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Samir K Brahmachari, himself a top geneticist.

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