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Biotechnology, vaccines, bioenergy & biofuel, stem cell are potential areas of collaboration between Asian and European countries: Anil Wadhwa
Nov 20, 2014

Research & Development and innovation can play a pivotal role in developing drugs, vaccines and diagnostic systems for vast populace, and providing improved access to medical information and medical devices, said Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India at a  ASEM session on “Cooperation between Asia and Europe in Life Sciences, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology and Medical devices. The session was part of the Knowledgexpo which is being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce today.

Mr. Wadhwa stated that the objective of the session was to strengthen Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) led cooperation and industrial R&D. He revealed some startling facts as he told that India is among the top five pharmaceutical emerging markets with its pharma industry growing at the CAGR of about 15% during last 5-6 years and is to reach $55 billion by 2020. Its generic active pharmaceutical ingredient merchant market is expected to be the third largest in the world by 2016 with a 7.2% global market share and $26.1 billion market value.

According to Mr. Wadhwa, biotechnology, vaccines, bioremediation, bioenergy & biofuel, stem cell, transgenic breeding, affordable diagnostic devices are new potential areas of collaboration between Asia and Europe. He also said that the Government has set a goal to double India’s investment to 2% of GDP from its current 1%. Government is identifying opportunities for inclusive growth and innovation under important policy initiatives like Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy 2013, the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) 2011 and Make in India.

Mr. Kisimoto Tasuo, Senior Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, MEXT, Japan said, “Japan looks forward to seeing a higher degree, closer and richer relationship with India.” This is manifested by “the Tokyo Declaration for India - Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership” where the two Prime Ministers decided to increase cooperation, in particular, in the cutting-edge fields such as life sciences including stem cell research, material science, cognitive science, applied mathematics, computing and information science, ocean technology and ocean observations, clean and renewable energy, water technology, climate change science and outer space, he added.

He reiterated that Japan aims to expand its reach and collaboration with Asia under its Vision 2020 through various programs including Research in/with Japan and Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Program in Science, etc.

In his address, Mr. Peter Macek, State Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, Slovenia shared the challenges faced by the country in the same fields. The government of Slovenia is promoting Green Slovenia an ecologically, environmentally and innovative nation coupled with an open, inclusive, innovative ecosystem. He stated that Slovenia is looking out opportunities to collaborate and strengthen relations with India in the field of green technology and innovation.”

Mr. Fridtjof Fossum Unander, Executive Director, Research Council of Norway, stated that India and Norway have signed on over 185 projects on various fields of science and technology. India is among the key countries Norway looks forward towards collaboration in S&T, he further said. Key areas that he highlighted in which Norway and India can collaborate are Biotechnology, energy, Food, Climate Change, Marine and Freshwater biology, Nanotechnology, Fisheries and many more.

In the second ASEM Session Mr S K Varshney from the Department of Science & Technology stressed that though we have many societal challenges, access to health & food is one of the key ones. To overcome this the DST is supporting research in this area.

Ms Nalini Vemuri, Vice President – R & D, Life care Innovations (P) Ltd gave a presentation on a DST/GITA funded project. The project Fungisone is being taken forward with the help of GITA. The benefit of Fungisone is that it has negligible toxicity and is Broad spectrum. The Project is under the Indo UK Partnership Programme and has been widely acknowledged.

In a panel discussion moderated by Dr Renu Swarup, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India ,  Managing Director, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). Dr Swarup spoke about the activities and role of the Department of Biotechnology and stressed that the end result should be affordable drugs medical facilities for all. India is well positioned in the field of pharmaceuticals however we can leverage the strength of International partners. New Vaccine development, Stem cell research, enhancing capabilities are some of the areas in which further collaboration will be useful from the Indian point of View.

In his remarks Dr Chander Shekhar, Head, Innovation and Translational Research Division Indian Council of Medical Research said that ICMR is one of the oldest research organisations and the focus of ICMR is moving from the creation of knowledge to the application of knowledge. He also stressed that ICMR is looking for partners and would like the industry to come forward in making healthcare affordable.

Mr Matjaz Peterka, CEO, Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrument & Process Control, Slovenia appreciated that their training program organised in India  was well received .Their institute has been organising training courses in collaboration with the Vellore Institute of Technology. Arranging financing for trainings was a challenge and that some mechanism could be looked at to facilitate the process. He also stressed that training is a very important area by which capabilities can be built and this can be leveraged to the advantage of ASEM.

Dr Noboru Yumoto Vice President National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan in his presentation explained about the DAILAB – India Japan collaboration which promotes multidisciplinary research among a host of other things. The role of AIST is to create knowledge to sole the 21st century issues by developing innovative technologies. He also stressed on the need for more collaboration in this area.

Greater Noida

November 20, 2014

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