ODISHA TO SET UPFUND TO SUPPORT BT START-UPS, YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
Odisha Government offers many sops in its biotechnology policy, released in November, to attract investments in the sector.
Odisha is yet to have well-developed biotechnology-based industries despite having ample scope in biotech sector. To overcome the obstacles and attract investments in the sector, the state government released its biotech policy in November. Apart from offering various sops to the industry, the policy also focuses on innovations by encouraging research and development in universities and institutes, creating talent pool of young entrepreneurs and encouraging start-ups. In an e-mail interview with Bio Spectrum, C J Venugopal, Principal Secretary, Science & Technology Department, Government of Odisha, explains Odisha’s strengths in biotechnology sector and salient features of the biotechnology policy.
Can you briefly talk about biotech sector in Odisha?
The State of Odisha has vast scope for development of biotechnology, a sunrise knowledge industry. The State, with its rich biodiversity in agriculture, marine, forest and vast natural resources coupled with industry-friendly policy measures, offers tremendous potential to become a major destination for investments in biotechnology sector.
As biotechnology industry is still in a state of formative years in the state, its development will have a considerable component of technology incubation through high-level of intellectual talent available in the universities and the centres of research in the state.
Even though the state is not very well-developed in biotechnology-based industries, it inherits established tradition of industrial culture, particularly in textile, leather, mining, paper and pulp and the agro industries. Upcoming investments in biotech units can benefit from the ex- isting scientific and managerial talent pool, IT/ITES and the corporate culture, nurtured over the period.
Biotech being a knowledge-based sector, the Odisha government has been focusing more on creating skilled talent pool through financial support to higher education and research like Ph.D. / M.Sc. / M.Tech apart from sponsoring international/ national/ state level conferences/seminars/ symposia/ workshops etc. in biotechnology.
A biotech-pharma-IT park is being developed on a public-private partnership mode. In the first phase, the park is being constructed over 64 acres in Andharua Mouza on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar for a biotech incubator, an IT corridor and commercial infrastructure. In the second phase, a state-of-the-art park with modular R&D labs, administrative support infrastructure and a BT corridor will be set up across 200 acres.
The park will stimulate and manage the knowledge flow and create linkages between universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets.
What steps are taken by the government to promote biotech sector in Odisha?
The Government of Odisha has been taking initiatives for promoting higher education, research & development (R&D) and to create an enabling environment for investments in biotechnology sector. The initiatives are -
• Providing financial support for holding workshops/
symposia/conferences on biotechnology.
• Providing scholarships and fellowships to university students, research scholars pursuing M.Sc. / M.Tech. / Ph. D. / in biotechnology and emeritus professors for shortterm academic assignments.
• Create infrastructure for biotechnology park/ marine biotechnology park/development of germplasm/ gene bank.
• Conduct skill and entrepreneurship development programmes (SEDP) through various biotechnology institutions of repute.
The Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR 2015) and MSME Policy provide various fiscal, non-fiscal incentives and other support measures on priority, to units in the biotechnology sector.
These initiatives would be expanded and given major thrust as part of the Biotechnology Policy Resolution-2016 (BPR 2016). The BPR 2016 shall act as a catalyst in the economic growth of the state, creating models for scalability and replicability resulting in higher in-
vestments and large-scale employment opportunities in the state. The BPR 2016 provides following supports to achieve its objective in biotechnology sector in the state:
Priority in allocation of land/ change of land-use for the biotechnology projects.
Permissible Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for biotechnology industrial units will be at par with the provisions made for information technology/ information technology enabled services (IT/ITES) sector.
• One time grant up to Rs. 2 crore for setting up of or upgrading of biotechnology centres of excellence by universities/institutes.
• One time grant up to Rs. 2 crore for setting up of or upgrading of biotech enterprise and skill development schools by universities/institutes.
• One time grant up to Rs. 2 crore for setting up of or
upgrading of biotechnology incubators.
Collaborative research grant up to Rs. 30 lakh per annum per project in advanced areas of applied biotechnology
The Government of Odisha would encourage special funding support of maximum up to Rs. 50 lakh per annum to university/institutes/agencies/industries for promotional assistance to encourage investment in this sector.
Awards to showcase significant contributions and achievements in biotechnology sector.
As part of effective governance, the policy shall enable proper implementation and smooth functioning of all the provisions to facilitate the biotechnology investments in the state. The society constituted for development of biotechnology under the Science & Technology Department will be responsible for the smooth implementation of the provisions in the policy.
All projects to be covered under this policy shall go through the State-Level Single Window Clearance Authority (SLSWCA) for clearance as per the prevailing practice for industries in the state according to IPR 2015, and a special single window clearance committee for projects with less than Rs 50 crore investment.
There will be a Policy Advisory Vision Group (PAVG), a think tank of intellectuals, professionals and practitioners from various fields in the academia, research, industry, commerce, administration, finance, marketing etc., that will develop in phases, systems and mechanisms to bring a paradigm shift in the approach of biotechnology education and research, commercialisation of products and services, investment, collaboration, skill development through a wide range of programmes and tasks. The committee will also be responsible for reassessment of priority areas for growth, constitution of special task forces from time to time.
When did Odisha released its first biotech policy?
The Biotechnology Policy of Odisha was released in November 2016.
What are the objectives of biotech policy?
a) Prioritising the thrust areas for basic as well as applied research and technology development with industry-academia-social interface.
b) Promoting innovation in R&D by providing financial and infrastructural support and by encouraging public-private partnership (PPP) in R&D for sustained growth and international competitiveness.
c) Establish regional biotechnology parks, bio-clusters, biotechnology centres of excellence, biotechnology enterprise and skill development schools (BESD), and incubation centres in universities/institutes/industries/agencies and thematic biotechnology parks in the priority areas like agriculture, animal husbandry and human health.
d) Establish dedicated institutes/strengthening existing facilities for bioinformatics, bio-similar, bio-markers, applied biotechnology, bioengineering and genomics etc.
e) Employment generation and development of industry ready-skilled human capital in various areas of biotechnology.
f) Capacity building on Intellectual Property Rights
(IPR) and bio-safety.
g) Create a conducive business ecosystem, registration mechanism, branding to facilitate and encourage private sector investment and business promotion.
h) Create a strong institutional framework/network for effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of this policy.
Can you share some of the important points from the policy?
As mentioned earlier, besides a lot of fiscal and non-fiscal supports under BPR 2016, the MSME policy and the IPR 2015 provide other support measures like supportive industrial and labour act and rules, environmental and pollution clearances, easy credit, capital, skilled human, raw materials, market, duty and taxes and also make provisions for special incentives like power subsidy, training/apprentice/employment subsidy etc.
Do precedents exist in Odisha for the kinds of innovation critical to success in biotechnology?
Yes, a lot of innovations take place particularly in applied biotechnology in the potential areas of life sciences, agricultural and animal sciences, health sciences, marine and aquaculture etc. in state universities and research institutes, and national institutes like NISER, ILS, IIT, CIFA, IIMT, NRRI, RMRC etc. for run up to industries to make commercially successful products and services. That apart, innovations in IT sector in the state provides a lot of scope for bioinformatics.
As Odisha continues to build up its life sciences sector, what lessons might it draw from its own experiences—for example, in the clean-tech sector—as well as from the experiences of other states in India?
Clean technology (clean-tech) is, in general, used to describe products, processes or services that reduce waste and require as few non-renewable resources as possible. Like other states promoting clean-tech, Odisha has also initiated a lot of measures to ensure use of cleantech in industrial designs, processes, practices and tools that supports a sustainable business growth, including pollution control, resource efficiency and management, waste reduction, energy efficiency, carbon mitigation, climate change adaptation and profitability.
How is Odisha government helping start-ups in this sector?
The state government has already launched its start-up policy to encourage incubators, including sector specific enterprises focusing to create enabling environment and supporting eco-system that facilitates at least 1,000 start-ups in the next five years in the state. The policy would provide incentives and exemptions over and above the start-up policy of Government of India and any other existing policy in the state. According to the start-up policy, the state government proposes to come up with a capital infrastructure fund up to Rs 25 crore to support the start-up units and young entrepreneurs. Universities and colleges are eligible for one-time capital grant to set up incubation facilities.