An Overview of the Biotechnology Industry
Biotechnology is regarded as a field with plenty of potential and latent promise in the Indian
context primarily because India possesses the intellectual prowess to be able to handle the immense
research which it demands and entails. India has always been at the forefront of research initiatives
and the fact that harnessing biotechnology would result in job creation for millions in form of R&D
and skill sets in a cost effective manner makes it an attractive package.
The biotech industry of India comprises of red, green, white and health sub-sections of the industry
and its core competence exists in the following aspects:
- Manufacture and increase in fermentation based products like yeast, cheese, curd and wine.
- Evolution of breeding techniques of plants and animals based on the science of molecular methodology,
cell and tissue culture and DNA technology.
- Using microbial cultural techniques and successfully manipulating genes of microbes and animal cells.
- Development of bioprocess engineering.
- Effective utilization of plant and animal parts to facilitate extraction of high quality value added products.
The Indian biotechnology industry has achieved a lot for which to claim credit within a relatively short period of
time. Some of the success stories are mentioned as follows:
- Indigenous development of the Hepatitis B vaccine.
- Acquiring world patents for plafactor, the solid state fermentation.
- Gene therapy and its drug delivery system.
- Indigenous production of test kits for detection of HIV I&II.
- Transgenic Bt cotton and its successful trial and application.
- Development human insulin and animal vaccines as also growth hormones.
Having broken the shell of national research, the Indian biotech industry has risen to the status wherein it is one
of the major providers of biotech information to buyers belonging to any part of the world. With as many as 190 large
biotech companies and hundreds of smaller ones engaged in active research India has emerged as a force to reckon with
in this field with an expected turnover of Rs.4, 40, 000 crores in 2020.
The firms forming a part of the Indian biotech industry could be classified in the following manner:
- Contract Research Organizations, which perform research on a contract basis. Some of the well known firms in this
category are Sygene Labs, Biological E, Bangalore genie and Avestha Gengraine.
- Firms like Shanta Biotech, Bharat Biotech and Biocon India which are engaged in basic research using recombinant
DNA technology and also evolve and launch their own range of products.
- Subsidiaries and sister companies of pharmaceutical and agri-tech organizations like Lupin Labs, Wockhardt,
Monsanto, Cadilla Healthcare and RPG Life Sciences.
- Floriculture and tissue culture companies which do not make use of the recombinant DNA technology but apply
the principles in accomplishing various processes.
The biotech industry in India received cognizance in the country for the first time during the 1980s’ and was
principally the domain of large national or international drug firms. It was in 1986 that the Department of
Biotechnology was established by the Government of India as under the purview of Ministry of Science and Technology.
Since then the number of firms engaged in this industry was 400 in 1995 and more than 850 as of now, the end of the
first decade of the twenty-first century.