Biotechnology Current Affairs

Government plans to create FarmerZone

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology is planning to create FarmerZone, a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture by using biological research and data to improve lives of small and marginal farmers.

It was announced by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at recently convened Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi. The objective of conclave was to set stage for “FarmerZone”. It was organised by DBT in partnership with UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

FarmerZone platform

FarmerZone envisioned by the DBT aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture by integrating science, technology, innovation and farm ecosystem. This platform aims to cater all needs of farmer from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water and seed requirements.

It will connect farmers and scientists, government officials, economists and representatives from global companies who work in the big-data and e-commerce space to bring about technology-based localised agri-solutions. This platform will work to collect relevant quality data related to agriculture into the cloud and also develop sites to help link with farmers and evolve PPP based enterprises for data delivery.

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Union Government launches National Biopharma Mission

The Union Ministry of Science & Technology has launched National Biopharma Mission, a first ever Industry-Academia mission to accelerate biopharmaceutical development in India.

Under this mission, the ministry also launched Innovate in India (i3) program to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.

Need

India has been an active player in the global pharmaceutical industry and has contributed towards making life saving drugs and low cost pharmaceutical products accessible at affordable rates. Despite, these advances, Indian biopharmaceutical industry is still 10-15 years behind their counterparts in the developed countries and faces stiff competition from Korea, China and others.

The lacuna primarily exists due to disconnected centers of excellence, less focus on translational research and uncertain funding. So there was an immediate need to consolidated efforts to promote product discovery, translational research and early stage manufacturing in the country to ensure inclusive innovation.

About Innovate in India (i3) program

i3 is a flagship program of the Government of India in collaboration with World Bank. It is committed to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products and solutions.

It promises to boost the growth of domestic biopharma industry by accelerating the translation of research concepts into viable products and supporting clinical validation. Moreover it will enable sustainable networks for collaboration between industry and academia, and support entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The program will witness an investment of $250 million with $125 million as a loan from world Bank.  It will strive to increase India’s global biopharmaceutical market share from current 2.8% to 5% and generate additional business opportunity of $16 billion. The program will help to innovate, co-create and co-facilitate scientific discoveries and offer young entrepreneurs an avenue to engage with the best in the industry.

About National Biopharma Mission

The mission aims to enable and nurture an ecosystem for preparing India’s technological and product development capabilities in biopharmaceuticals to be globally competitive level over the next decade. It will also strive to transform the health standards of India’s population through affordable product development

The mission will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a PSU of Department of Biotechnology. It will bring together expertise from national and international corridors to provide strategic direction and guidance to move promising solutions through the product development value chain.

It will provide a holistic and integrated approach to strengthen and support the entire product development value chain for accelerating the research leads to product development. This will help not only in immediate product development for addressing public health needs, but also help to create an ecosystem which will facilitate development of a continuous pipeline of products.

The mission will concentrate on development of specific products such as vaccines, medical devices, biotherapeutics and diagnostics etc. Besides, it will also work on establishment of shared infrastructure and facilities. It will help in building and strengthening domain specific knowledge and management skills at the same time creating and enhancing technology transfer capabilities in public and private sector.

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