Biotechnology occupies a pride of place among the hottest business sectors of India. It is estimated that the sector has the potential to touch business worth over $5 billion by 2010 and create over 1 million jobs by then. And it is not surprising that the biotechnology has become one of the most sought after courses in reputed universities. This article focuses on a brief analysis of the scope of biotech industry in India, growth trends in the sector, skills needed to enter the biotech market and courses and institutes available.
At present India is home to approximately 150 biotechnology companies, of which three-quarter started functioning in the last five years. Many of them are located in or near the two cities in the south -- Bangalore and Hyderabad. Bangalore has the enviable reputation of being billed as ‘The Biotech City’ in India based on the number of biotech companies located there. As is the norm in the U.S., these companies flourish around reputed academic centres. The companies concentrate on contract R&D services, bioinformatics, biotherapeutics, vaccines, genetically-modified crops and drug development.
Growth over the years
India has many assets in its strong pool of scientist and engineers, vast institutional network and cost effective manufacturing. There are more than 300 college level educational and training institutes across the country offering degrees and diplomas in biotechnology, bio-informatics and the biological sciences, producing nearly 500,000 students on an annual basis.
In the beginning, there was only Biocon, which is still India’s leading biotech company. Currently, there are some 175 companies engaged in biotechnology field and out of these some 50-60 companies are in modern biotechnology. According to a study made by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) of 52 Indian companies in the modern biotechnology segment, the total project investment by was over US$ 100 million in the last decade. Out of these 52 companies, 32 alone were incorporated after 1998, showing the increased interest in the industry.
In 1978, biotech meant only fermentation and enzyme production. In 2005, the $1-billion plus Indian biotech industry consists of new drug discovery, bioinformatics, clinical research, and synthetic chemistry with approximately 230 drugs in the market spanning 13 therapeutic segments.
A number of institutes and universities have started biotech courses at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Right from Diplomas and Bachelors degree to Masters degree and even PhD. level, students can graduate in biotechnology and the related specialized fields.
Eligibility criterion for admission to biotech courses is 10+2 in science discipline. Some institutes specify a minimum percentage and even conduct entrance exams.
Institutes offering Biotech courses
IITs in Delhi, Mumbai and Kharagpur
Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Noida
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
AIIMS, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi
Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, New Delhi
Delhi University, New Delhi
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi
Roorkee University, Roorkee
Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Fields where biotechnology studies are applicable
Medicine and Healthcare: Biotechnology's application in this area has helped in the development of various medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. R&D work carried out in this field has led to remarkable improvement in medical and healthcare practices.
Industrial Research and Development: This area requires conducting research and development work, for increasing productivity, improving energy production and conservation, minimizing pollution and industrial waste.
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry: Indian economy is very much dependent on agriculture. Biotechnologists have made major advancements in this area. Over the years, the agricultural output has been improving, owing to the improvements in the quality of seeds, insecticides and fertilizers. Biotechnology's intervention in the area of animal husbandry has improved animal breeding. Numerous kinds of genetically engineered, high yielding animal breeds have come up which has increased the output of dairy and meat products.
Environment: Environmental biotechnology has become another area of extensive work due to the dangers brought about by increasing levels of environmental pollution. Apart from these areas Biotechnologists can be employed in the areas of planning, production and management of Bioprocess Industries. Banks, Venture Capitalists, and Fund management companies investing in Life Sciences employ analysts who have a background in Biotechnology. Preference is for Biotechnology Graduates with an MBA degree. Law firms are starting to show interest in Biotechnology to provide advisory consultations for Intellectual Property Rights/Patent protection for life sciences. A combination of Biotechnology with Law would be ideal for this area.
Thus, tighten your belt and jump in the field of biotechnology and find numerous opportunities waiting for you.