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A million jobs by 2010?

After IT, India is emerging as a global hub for biotechnology. Draft biotech strategy envisages a $5-billion industry in 3 years, writes Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Aug 03, 2007 07:25 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

After information technology, India is emerging as a global hub for biotechnology. The Indian biotech industry, excluding the organised pharmaceutical and drug manufacturing companies, reported revenues in excess of $1 billion in 2005-06. Encouraged, the government has prepared a draft biotech strategy to provide a clear roadmap to the industry for 10 years.

The draft strategy has tried to take a holistic look at the current scenario and has suggested several measures and timeframes to promote innovation and manufacturing. The declared goals are to create world-class human capital, build quality infrastructure, and address the basic needs of society. All this would be aimed at logging $5 billion and generating a million jobs by 2010.

The sector is characterised by dynamic changes in terms of new ideas and developments. The applications cover a broad spectrum of sectors including agriculture, food processing, pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemical sciences, and environmental preservation.

“The world has woken up to the fact that India is a country that cannot be ignored while plotting the landscape of the biotechnology industry,” consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has said in a report.

Arvind Lal of Dr Lal’s Pathlabs said the quest for improving the standard of healthcare has led to a tremendous global effort dedicated to new drug discovery and development. “Today, the pharmaceutical industry faces significant challenges such as cost optimisation, competition from generic drug makers, and, most crucially, an ‘innovation deficit’,” said Lal.

“There is a shortage of people with the appropriate research and development skills. In clinical research outsourcing, we have to recruit for the focus area of research,” said Dr Kashmira Pagdiwalla, director (HR operations) at Intas Biopharmaceuticals.

A survey Ficci found that the shortage of doctorate and post-doctorate scientists in biotech at a worrying 80 per cent.

That’s why growth of employment in biotechnology is 10 times that in the other sectors of the larger life sciences industry. “There are several employment opportunities in R&D, manufacturing and quality control. On a sub-sectoral perspective, the requirement of skilled manpower in R&D is more,” Pagdiwalla said, adding: “Recruiting in biotechnology does not mean that an HR person can relax.”