Give biotech research a push, Azad tells private sector

Govt medical institutes pre-occupied with treating patients

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, on Monday called upon private companies to upgrade their research facilities in biotechnology, as he felt the government medical institutions were overburdened with treatment procedures and had no time for research activities.

He cited the example of All India Institute Medical Science (AIIMS), initially formed for medical research,  but which later turned into a major health care centre providing all kinds of tertiary treatment. 

He was speaking after inaugurating Bangalore India Bio in the city. Azad said: “Government research institutes have suffered mainly due to some external influences. Some medical professionals do not have the time or the expertise to submit quality research papers. India is emerging as a key player in the field of biotechnology, with foreign companies interested in setting up research oriented centres.

“Our country should partner with major biotech firms to manufacture affordable vaccines for communicable diseases,” he said.

Reiterating the importance of biotechnology in India, Dr M K Bhan, Secretary to the Department of Biotechnology of the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, said the Planning Commission had asked his department to seek more grants.

The Planning Commission had promised to increase the allocation three-fold from this year’s budget, Bhan said.

“Unlike students here, engineering and medical students abroad spend more time graduating as they devote a lot of time conducting research. The primary reason for the lack of improvements in the field of biotechnology is the less room for innovation," he said.

Govt reiterates support
Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, speaking on the occasion, extended the State government’s support to biotechnology firms keen on setting up ventures in the State.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association (PA Bio) and Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS).
The two institutions will promote biotech activities in their respective regions by way of creating opportunities like trade events, conferences and business delegations.

A series of panel discussions will be held on biotechnology during the three-day event which is expected to attract delegates from 20 countries.

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