India and Colombia have enjoyed friendly and cordial bilateral relations for over 70 Years, collaborating in various multilateral fora.
Taking rapid strides along these developing relations External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and Vice-President & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez witnessed the signing of agreements between both countries on 2nd October 2021.
During her ongoing visit to India, VP & Foreign Affairs Minister of Columbia Marta Lucía Ramírez along with a high-level delegation visited the Department of Biotechnology on 1st October 2021.
The Columbian Delegation held a meeting with the Indian delegation led by Dr Renu Swarup, the Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Science & Technology (DST).
India – a Global Vaccine Manufacturing Hub
Commending that India is renowned as a global vaccine manufacturing hub, Columbia has expressed its willingness to cooperate in the areas of vaccines, biosimilars and medical devices.
When the world was struggling to overcome the severe COVID-19 pandemic, India converted its adversity into an opportunity and pulled all its efforts to build a robust and enabling ecosystem for biotechnology.
Appreciating the accomplishments of India over the past few decades in the Science & Technology sector, Dr. Sergio Cristancho, Vice Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Republic of Colombia, said the country hopes to replicate Indian models of knowledge generation and innovation.
Biotechnology: one of the most emerging sectors in India
During the meeting with the Columbian delegation, Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT and DST talked about several agreements that have been executed between India and Colombia over the years in the areas of trade promotion, cooperation in defence, space science, IT, tourism, etc.
Currently, biotechnology is one of the most emerging sectors in India wherein the Indian Biotechnology industry is aimed at reaching a US$150 Billion Bio-economy by 2025.
During this meeting, the leaders on both sides expressed their hope of working together in achieving the target.
BIRAC – supporting biotechnology start-up & innovation ecosystem
The success journey of India’s biotechnology infrastructure stems from the initiatives undertaken by the government of India which have supported the innovation of newer and compact technology, especially at the times of COVID-19.
The Indian biotech industry comprises over 5,000 companies (760 core companies and 4,240 start-ups) and is aligned around five major segments: BioPharma, BioAgriculture, BioIndustrial, and combined segment of BioServices comprising of BioIT, CROs, and Research Services.
Under the Union Budget 2021-22, the government of India had outlaid Rs. 1,660 crore (US$ 227.94 million) for biotechnology research and development. Plans were also announced to set up nine biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) laboratories through Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana.
The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) established by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) aims to strengthen and empower the emerging biotechnology enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation.
Various schemes like Students Innovations for Translation & Advancement of Research Explorations (SITARE), implemented by BIRAC intend to support innovative student projects in the area of biotechnology every year.
India & Columbia to build a sustainable biotechnology ecosystem
Indian biotechnology is built by the objectives of entrepreneurship, innovation, developing domestic talent and demonstrating value-based care.
A big chunk of these developments is ushered by Public-Private partnerships to support a sustainable ecosystem.
Focussing on the greater future outlook, India and Columbia have decided to work together towards Indo-Colombian Public-Private Partnerships for building a sustainable biotechnology ecosystem.
In line with this, a Letter of Intent is proposed to be executed between the Ministries of Science and Technology and Innovation on both sides.
Other than biotechnology, EAM Dr. S Jaishankar and Vice-President & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez have also agreed to focus more on health, pharmaceuticals, trade and investment, especially energy, IT, pharma and auto sector.