• 3 April 2008
  • News
  • By Jahanara Parveen

Incubators accelerate entrepreneurial spirit

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Incubators accelerate entrepreneurial spirit

India is expected to have more than 20 biotech incubators by 2010. This will help start-ups to focus on their activities.

Polyclone Bioservices, which started operations in May 2005 with investments from founders and close associates, as a bioinformatics and consulting services company, was amongst the earliest companies in India to incubate its lab from a university laboratory. "We were the first company to do so at the UAS, Dharwad, which now has other successful incubatees like Navya Biotech," said Naveen Kulkarni, founder and CEO, Polyclone. It set up a cancer-specific commercial microarray lab at the campus.

"Our experience at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) Dharwad incubation facility has been excellent. The management and scientists at the IABT (Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology), where the incubator facility is housed, have been most cooperative and eager to help. The facility also makes it easy for us to reach out to bright PhD students who work with us on various projects," added Sanjay Bettadpura, chief business officer, Polyclone Bioservices.

The incubator facility has helped the company save costs tremendously on lab infrastructure and space. "It could have been a big burden for a start-up. More importantly, the facility has helped us with a nurturing environment where our scientists can learn, interact and grow," added Kulkarni. "Last but not the least, being at the UAS, Dharwad campus also added to the credibility of our company due to the University's strong brand name," said Bettadpura.

Another new entrant into the Indian biotech market, Navya Biologicals too decided to go to the UAS Dharwad facility. "Most Indian entrepreneurs like us at Navya set out with dreams, competence, will-to-do and little or no money in the pockets. And biotech being a capital-intensive business with long-gestation periods, it is a challenge for all entrepreneurs like us. Therefore an incubator like the one in Dharwad lets us focus on the 'risk' of generating, validating and developing ideas, technologies, products at the beginning rather than divert energy on building the infrastructure," said Vinay Konaje, co-founder, Navya. Having successfully navigated the initial "corridor of uncertainty", Navya is now dreaming big, and in the process of expanding, setting up its own infrastructure and facilities. Hubli-Dharwad lets us realize our dream," added Vinay Konaje.

These are neither isolated examples of start-up companies daring to operate out of an incubation center or the trend confined to a specific region in the country. There have been over three dozen companies in the country which have started from incubated facilities. These companies, both local and global, are spread across different sectors, regions, and on various campuses for varied reasons.

Taher Abbasi, CEO, Cellworks Group Inc., an incubatee at Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biology (IBAB), Bangalore pointed out, "One of the hurdles in getting a start-up venture off the ground in Bangalore is infrastructure and logistics. The incubation of Cellworks at IBAB at its inception enabled us to focus completely on technology development. In addition to providing us with the infrastructure, which is comparable to any global standards, IBAB provided us the mentorship. Its high-caliber management team was of immense value to us." Cellworks Group, a systems biology company, which started in the IBAB incubator in July 2005 has 65 employees and five customers already.

Sandeep Bedge, an incubatee of MITCON Agri Biotechnology Incubator since 2006, has now started marketing the biofertilizer products by availing the production infrastructure facility of the incubator. He is marketing the products in Sangli district of Maharashtra. He has also undergone the Entrepreneurship Development Program in Biotechnology organized by the incubator. "I am planning to start small unit of biofertilizer manufacturing," said Bedge.

With a large number of multinational biotech and biopharma companies initiating their R&D and manufacturing operations in India, the demand for biotech incubators has increased tremendously. Companies have realized the benefits provided by these business incubators and have been relocating their facilities to the parks and other university campuses. Some of the leading biotech parks with excellent incubation centers include Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, Hyderabad, ICICI Knowledge Park, Hyderabad, TICEL Bio Park, Chennai, International Biotech Park, Hinjewadi, Pune and KINFRA Biotech Parks, Kochi.

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Biotech Incubatees




ICICI Knowledge Park

ONAN Biotech


Recombinant DNA technology and development of PCR based molecular techniques


Ortin Biotech

Bioactive peptide synthesis, Monoclonal Antibody, Diagnostic kit development

Regain Biotechnology

Plant based therapeutics


Vrinda Life Sciences

Generic monoclonal antibodies

Premium Phytoceuticals

Plant based therapeutics, high value phytochemicals, nutraceutical and dietary supplements


Biomax Life Sciences

Separation of Nutraceutical and developing a process of solubilizing water insoluble drugs


Aptuit Laurus

Integrated services, technologies and manufacturing capabilities in Drug Development


Lucknow Biotech Park

AquaBioChip Genomics (India)

Genetic marker-based screening tools


Clintech Research India

Biobusiness Centre

Cognate Bioservices Inc., USA

Cell based therapeutics


ACS Bioinformatics

R&D activities in biotechnology and bioinformatics and patent filing services

HH Biotechnologies

Plant based pharmaceuticals


IQRA Biotech Services

Human DNA bank

Sheel Biotech

Plant Tissue Culture


Sepragen India

Equipments and instruments for bio-processing

Biotech Incubation Centre, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad

Navya Biologicals

Biology services


Polyclone BioServices

Bioservices in genomics and drug discovery


Services Availed



MITCON Biotech Park


Rushiraj Biotech, Gujarat

Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides - Special use in Organic Fertiliser for product enrichment

Nandlal Seed Farm, Pune


Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides - Special use in Grape, Pomegranate and Fig Farms.



Scientifically Assembled Vermicomposting Enterprises, Pune

Services for compost analysis and Product Support

Pramukh Agri Clinic, MadhiGujarat

Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides


Ambience Fertechem Pvt. Ltd. Pune

Product Support for Bio-pesticides

Dhanalaxmi Seeds, Kolhapur

Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides


J.S.Biofertilizers, Nandurbar

Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides

Green World Bio Products, Nasik

Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides

Universal Biotech, Nasik

Training and Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides

Prabhodhan Agro, Pune

Training and Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides


Samarth Agro Concept, Pune

Training and Product Support for Bio-fertiliser and Bio-pesticides


MANARA Biotech, Pune

Product support in Composite culture



Product support for bio fertilizer and biopesticides

IBAB Incubator

Cellworks Group



Symbiosis Biowares





Microtest Innovations



List of Biotech Incubation Centres in India

  • MITCON Biotechnology Centre, Pune

  • International Biotech Park, Pune

  • Incubation Centre, ICRISAT, Hyderabad

  • Incubation Centre, ICICI Knowledge Park, Hyderabad

  • Bioinformatics and Genomics Centre (BGC), TIDEL Park Ltd., Chennai

  • Incubation Centre, TICEL Bio Park Ltd, Chennai

  • Incubation center, Biotech Park at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

  • Biotechnology Incubation Centre, Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, Hyderabad

  • Biotechnology Incubation Centre/Pilot plant facilities, KINFRA biotech Park, Kerala

  • Biotechnology Incubation Centre/Pilot plant facilities at Himachal Pradesh Biotech Park

  • Biotechnology Park/ Incubation Centre, Bangalore Helix, Karnataka

  • Incubation Centre, University of Agricultural sciences, Dharwad,

  • Incubation Centre, IBAB, Bangalore, Karnataka

  • Incubation Centre, Marine Biotechnology Park, Kelambakkam, Chennai

  • Incubation Centre, Women's Biotechnology Park, Kelambakkam, Chennai

  • Centre for Biotechnology, Anna University, Chennai

Incubators mushroom

Both, the central and state governments are making all efforts to promote biotechnology endeavors in the country by setting up biotech parks, incubators as well as pilot projects. This is to encourage new entrepreneurial ventures in biotech and provide an excellent template for promotion of biotech start up companies. As a result of this

Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, a private-public initiative, has developed an excellent incubation center (BTIC) at Genome Valley, Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 28 crore. The facility is for lease for 14 ventures. The management is, however, yet to identify companies for which the facility will be leased out. The center has been jointly developed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the state government and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology.

The BTIC is equipped to develop and scale-up process and product technologies related to enzymes, probiotics, antibiotics, organic and pharma intermediates and recombinant DNA. From functional point of view, the BTIC consists of research laboratories, multipurpose and specialized pilot plant facilities which can be leased to the clients and service centers for providing administrative, publicity, analytical, material storage, HRD, business development, information and utility support systems to the BTIC tenants.

The ICICI Knowledge Park also based in Hyderabad has a Life Science Incubator (LSI) with an incubation space of around 3,200 sq.ft for eight incubatees to encourage and nurture start-up companies and spin-offs in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology related areas.

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In addition to the above mentioned parks, the government has earmarked an area of 200 acres for Agri Science Park at the campus of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). It comprises an Agri Business Incubator, a Hybrid Seeds Consortium, and SAT Ecoventure. The center has the facility for testing aflatoxin contamination in food crops. The center has collaborations with Avesthagen and the Suri Sehgal Foundation. Four companies have joined the Agri-Business Incubator to incubate technologies. These being Rusni Distilleries for the production of ethanol from sweet sorghum; Bioseed Research Ltd for the development of transgenic cotton; Seed Works Ltd for the development of transgenic cotton and vegetables; and Sessler Tom and Hyglass for the development of fermentor and agricultural implements.

The Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation has set up a biotechnology incubation center at the Kinfra Biotech Park at Kalamassery near Kochi with assistance from the Union Government through DBT. The center houses common equipment and instrument facilities like greenhouse and hardening facilities, tissue culture facilities, analytical laboratories, extraction facilities and patent facilitation center. A fully furnished research and development facility will be made available on lease to the industry at the incubation center.

Uttar Pradesh is comparatively a new entrant to the biotech sector. And the setting up of the park has boosted biotech activity in the state. Lucknow Biotech Park, jointly setup by the DBT, DST, and Government of Uttar Pradesh in collaboration with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the local universities and industries is a technology incubator plus model. The limited incubation space of approximately 20,000 sq.ft. available within the Park has been leased out to the entrepreneurs for innovative research and services. Companies like AquaBiochip Genomics India, Clintech Research India, Cognate BioServices, ACS Bioinformatics, and Sheela Biotech have been sharing the facility.

All these companies are utilizing the common facilities as per their requirements. Nextgen-Biofertilizers and Aroma Products have now expanded their activity outside the park in the biofertilizers business. Similarly the park has paved the way for launching of two new companies-Green Oil, New Delhi and UP Bioenergy Pvt Ltd, Lucknow outside the park in the area of biofuel energy.

Commenting on the success of the incubator, Dr PK Seth, CEO, Lucknow Biotech Park, said, "The incubator is envisioned to emerge as an integrated hub of companies pursuing biotech research. The facilities provided by the incubator would ensure that the tenants have the desired competitive edge in terms of availability of necessary equipment, manpower, intellectual property, etc."

The future plans of Park include construction of more ready-to-use laboratories keeping in view the high demand from new start-up companies, setting up of a commercial solvent extraction plant for obtaining lead molecules e.g., artemisinin from Artemisia annua in a public-private partnership mode said Dr Seth.

The MITCON's BT Incubator at Pune was set up within three months of taking possession of the premises at its current location including installation and commissioning of various plant and equipment, amenities, utilities, etc. MITCON's Incubator is the first Facility in Agri Biotech duly supported by DST and Asia-Pacific Center for Transfer of Technology.

"The objective is to develop new generation entrepreneurship in agri-biotechnology sector and also to commercialize the bio technologies," said Shekhu Kulkarni, chief executive, MITCON Biotech Park.

The incubator has conducted Entrepreneurship Development Programmes in agri-biotechnology in order to create awareness in the society and develop new generation entrepreneurship in agri-biotechnology sector, he added.

Bangalore Helix, the biotech cluster being planned by the Karnataka government also aims to support biotech units with common infrastructure. The biotech-incubator is coming up in an area of about 10-15 acres in the Biotech Park. It includes incubation facility, common instrumentation facility, business center, food courts, commercial and recreational area, high-end computing facility, pilot plant, medical sample repository, gene bank, auditorium, meeting halls, board rooms, etc. DBT has sanctioned an amount of Rs 15 crore for this center. This center is expected to run as a separate Strategic Business Unit (SBU) and also as a self sustainable and commercially viable project. Among other initiatives, a stem cell incubation center would also be set up in the city which would be the first of its kind in the country. The incubation center is expected to be operational by the mid of this year at Electronics City in Bangalore.

The biotech incubator at IBAB has been active since 2002. It has both a wet-lab biotech incubation facility and a dry-lab informatics set up. "The companies we have hosted to date are Cellworks Group, Simbiosys Biowares, BioCOS, the R&D unit of Novozymes and Microtest Innovations," said Dr Gayatri Saberwal, NEN leader, IBAB. We are able to help our incubatees with infrastructure, student manpower and the knowledge and connections of the institute's faculty, she added.

Dr Yathindra, Director, IBAB, expects Bangalore Helix to be ready by June 2008, and plans to expand the IBAB incubation facility by several fold once the institute shifts to the biotech park.

The Government of Gujarat intends to establish a biotech incubator with an estimated built-up space of 73,200 sq.ft. to serve the needs of the small and medium scale biotech companies based in Gujarat. The incubator would provide the critical support to start-up companies by incubating innovative business solutions into commercial ventures.

At present, the biotechnology incubation centers are at various stages of development in several states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The biotechnology incubator at Uttar Pradesh and the center at Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, Hyderabad, are already functional and are supported by DBT.

The biotech park and incubator in Punjab are yet to take shape. Commenting on the delay, Gurmeet Singh Bhatia, MD, Beckons Industries and CEO of the Punjab Biotech Park, said, "The biotech incubator is completely based on private investments and is not supported by the government in any way. The land has been allocated but the construction work has not yet started and is still at the planning phase."

The incubators set up in several biotech parks have been providing support to those young entrepreneurs who are not in a position to incur high capital expenditure in the biotech industry, but have the capabilities to develop and design new biotech products and processes by utilizing the biotech incubators and pilot level facilities. The Parks are setting up facilities keeping in view the needs and requirements of the regional industry and are being designed to enhance research and development driven and innovation based activities by creating state-of-the-art R&D facilities and fully operational labs. Most of them are being developed on a Public-Private Partnership model. In this model, the Park receives adequate funding from the Government, besides dedicated attention from well experienced private parties. Biotech Parks are increasingly setting up incubation facilities to encourage new entrepreneurial ventures in biotech and the access to specialized infrastructure at competitive cost.

DBT support

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has received proposals from various states for financial support to set up of biotechnology incubators and pilot facilities. Apart from the already approved biotech parks at Lucknow and Biotechnology Incubation Center (BTIC) at Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park, a few more biotech incubation and pilot plant facilities are being set up. These will be commissioned in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. DBT's support to Lucknow and BTIC's facilities was to tune of Rs 12.06 crore and Rs 12.39 crore respectively.

The central government, through DBT, has been providing funding support in the form of grants-in-aid, budgetary allocation and incentives for the development of biotech incubators. The recently announced National Biotechnology Development Strategy talks about several initiatives aimed at promoting biotechnology parks. At least 10 biotech parks would be promoted and supported by DBT by 2010. DBT would also support creation of incubators in biotech parks promoted by a private promoter or through public-private partnership in the form of grant up to 30 percent of the total cost or up to 49 percent in the form of equity. In addition to the already existing centers, plans are on for another 6-8 new biotechnology incubators to be operational by 2010. The new incubation centers are expected to come up in Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi. The parks that are eventually funded are likely to be functional within a period of two years.

Jahanara Parveen


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