Biotech could be a $200 bn industry in the next decade: Sam Pitroda

Govt will need to increase its investment in the biotechnology industry for it to realize its potential in India, Pitroda said


Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Biotechnology could become a bigger industry than information technology (IT) in India in the coming decade, with far-reaching benefits for related sectors, Sam Pitroda, chairman, National Innovation Council, said on Thursday.

But the government will need to increase its investment in the biotechnology industry for it to realize its potential in India, Pitroda said at the foundation day of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

Pitroda cited the example of the booming telecom industry, saying 30 years ago India had only around two million phones and no exports. Today it has 900 million phones, and its exports of software services are worth $120 billion every year.

Pitroda is credited with helping craft India’s computer and telecom revolution as a key adviser to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s.

“It is possible to look at biotech industry as a $200 billion-industry in the next decade. But we have to perhaps invest $30-40 billion in biotech, and not $5 billion,” said Pitroda.

The Indian biotech industry reported revenues of $3 billion during 2009-11, according to the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE).

The reason for this potential for growth is biotechnology’s far-reaching impact on other industries such as agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals, environment, sanitation and oceanography.

BIRAC is a government-owned not-for-profit company that acts as an interface agency for the department of biotechnology. It facilitates and mentors start-ups that develop biotechnology products.

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