- The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been continuously striving to address the unmet needs through its unique S&T interventions. CSIR through its New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) has been successful in developing a reflectance confocal microscope with super continuum light source. The development has paved way for India’s presence in global photonics research. This is a World Class ‘Made in India’ High-end Product.
- CSIR also made great headway in developing niche aerospace technologies. CSIR and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) are jointly producing the Drishti system, a visibility measuring system that provides information to pilots on visibility for safe landing and take-off operations, so as to enable the deployment of 70 such systems at Indian airports. The system has already been installed in 5 major Indian airports.
- CSIR has been a consistent comrade of the ISRO and DAE. Its unstinting strong R&D support to the strategic sector has been most beneficial to the country. Gyrotron, a device used in nuclear fusion process, is currently imported in the country. Countries that manufacture gyrotrons namely the United States, Russia, Japan, and European Union do not disclose their designs and associated technology. Through focused efforts, CSIR with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has developed the first Indian gyrotron which is ready to be tested at the Institute for Plasma Research (DAE), Gandhinagar, which is a partner institute on this project. CSIR has also been providing support in the development, production and supply of neodymium doped phosphate laser glass to the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (DAE).‘DHVANI’, the Detection and Hit Visualization using Acoustic N-wave Identification system developed by CSIR for perfecting marksmanship skills by accurately determining the location of bullet impact and providing real-time feedback, has been approved for induction into the Indian Army.
- CSIR’s endeavours in the domain of traditional knowledge for providing affordable healthcare have been praiseworthy. An anti-diabetic herbal formulation BGR-34, from a combination of natural extracts derived from six plant species mentioned in ancient Ayurveda texts has been developed. The drug which was approved by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) is an adjuvant to existing diabetes treatment, to help maintain normal blood glucose levels and also in improving the immune system. The herbal drug has been launched by industry in parts of North India.
- Further, a national cGMP facility for extraction, formulation and packaging of traditional herbal medicines has been set up at CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM), Jammu. It has been created as per WHO guidelines. The facility will also be made available to R&D institutions and industry. The facility will target preparation of extracts and formulations for conducting clinical trials, process development, scale-up & optimization of lab- processes and converting them into commercially viable technologies besides generation of authentic and accurate clinically acceptable data. This facility will transform quality herbal drug production in India and its export to US and European markets.
- The farmers are the backbone of our country. CSIR has developed and released to farmers a new improved high yielding variety of Ashwagandha, NMITLI-101 which is rich in several bioactive compounds. The average root yield from NMITLI-101 crop is about 25 quintal/hectare and the seed production from the variety is up to 3 quintal/ha, under optimum conditions. The estimated economic return from cultivation of this variety is about Rs. 2.5 Lakh/hectare per crop.
- CSIR has also launched the JK Aroma Arogya Gram (JAAG) project which targets job and wealth creation through intensive cultivation of CSIR agri-technology of high value, low volume medicinal and aromatic crops. The benefits of the JAAG project include handholding of the farmers by CSIR for cultivation of medicinal plants, besides providing unemployed youth an opportunity to set up ventures in cultivation of medicinal plants. Awareness camps for farmers of the area besides demonstrations of Mobile Distillation Unit for extraction of essential oils are conducted. Started in July 2015, so far, seventy three farmers in 14 villages of Kathua district (J&K) have been distributed slips of lemongrass, Java citronella and vetiver for cultivation in 17.47 hectares area under the JAAG project.
- Also focusing at ‘Reaching to the Unreached’, CSIR’s Centre for High Altitude Biology (CSIR-CeHAB) in Lahaul and Spitiis providing deployable knowledgebase to local communities for inclusive growth. The CSIR knowhow related to food & agri-processing was showcased at the Tribal Fair at Keylong for the benefit of the local farmers in making novel products from major crops of the region such as Buckwheat and also brining of the peas and cauliflower.
- As part of efforts towards developing sustainable energy solutions, CSIR under the CSIR-NMITLI, has successfully developed indigenous know-how to make technology components and the process for building Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) multi-cell stack of desired power output. CSIR has taken existing technology know-how from stack-to-system level higher by scaling-up the power produced to 3.5 kW and validating it for a commercial application such as telecom tower power backup. For this, a modular test bed has been designed, built and commissioned with in-house knowhow at Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Patalganga site. The fuel cell facility commissioned now, is expected to provide plenty of useful data for testing and developing indigenous fuel cells at low costs for commercial applications.
DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY:
- India International Science Festival (IISF) 2015
IISF (2015) was organised in IIT, Delhi during 4th Dec. to 8th Dec. 2015 with the objective of exposing the fruits of Science & Technology to the masses; building strategy to instill scientific temper among the masses; showcasing Indian contributions in the field of S&T over the years; providing platform to young scientists for exchange of knowledge and ideas; and supporting flagship programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Start-ups, Smart Villages, Smart Cities, etc. Approximately 10,000 delegates from all over the country participated in the following components of the festival – young scientists’ conference, techno-industrial expo, science film festival, national level exhibition and project competition showcasing innovative models under INSPIRE programme of Department of Science & Technology, industry academia conclave, largest practical science laboratory demo and interactive workshops and informative sessions.
Largest Practical Science Session with 2000 students, on 7th Dec. 2015, working in small teams to complete experiments as part of the lesson that focused on catalysts has found the entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- National Supercomputing Mission
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the launch of the National Supercomputing Mission on 25th March 2015. This is a visionary program to enable India to leapfrog to the league of world class computing power nations. The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of Rs.4500 crore over a period of seven years.
The Mission envisages empowering our national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities. These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network. Academic and R&D institutions as well as key user departments/ministries would participate by using these facilities and develop applications of national relevance. The Mission also includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
3. DST-MHRD Collaboration in Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) Project: Department of Science & Technology (DST) is working with Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to evolve a mechanism for joint implementation of IMPRINT projects which was launched on 5th Nov. 2015 by the Hon’ble President of India. Preliminary meetings with MHRD have already taken place and detailed modalities are being worked out with MHRD. IMPRINT projects will address major societal and developmental needs such as healthcare, information and communication technology, energy, sustainable habitat, nano technology, water resources and river systems, advanced materials, security and defence, and environment and climate.
4. DST-Ministry of Railways (MoR) Joint R&D Initiative : Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Railways (MoR) are shaping a joint R&D initiative to address research problems of immediate and direct relevance to MoR by taking up suitable projects within time span of 3-5 years with well defined deliverables. Collaboration between MoR and DST are in the area of fuel efficiency and emission control technologies, alternate fuels, fuel conservation in diesel traction etc. and to derive synergy based on mutual strengths. As an outcome of these efforts, scope of programme support has been finalized in the meeting of 8th September, 2015
5. Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM)
DST has launched a new programme “Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM)” in 2015-16 to rejuvenate research in yoga and meditation. Given the ever increasing prevalence of physical and mental health problems, the holistic approach of Yoga and Meditation is believed to have the potential to find beneficial treatment that is relatively safer and more cost-effective. Cutting-edge research under SATYAM will seek to identify related issues and challenges and address these to enhance human well-being. Another objective of SATYAM is to also harness knowledge obtained in academic institutions and other related agencies for finding S&T-led solutions that would enable us to cope with stress and strain associated with fast changing social, economic, environmental and professional circumstances. The programme will encourage research in two major thematic areas: (1) investigations on the effect of Yoga and Meditation on physical and mental health, and (2) investigations on the effect of Yoga & Meditation on the body, brain, and mind in terms of basic processes.
- Scheme for funding Industry-relevant R&D
The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) recognizes the need to facilitate increased Public Private Partnerships in its funding mechanism, and has recently approved a scheme that provides an opportunity for collaborative research between academic institutions and industry. This scheme aims to bridge the gap between public funded research and industrial R&D. The new scheme seeks to target solution driven research to address industry specific problems. Project will be jointly designed and implemented by the academic partner and industry, and the cost will be shared between SERB and Industry with industry share not less than 50 % of the total budget. All industries (including Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) & industrial R&D Centres) are welcome to participate in this scheme.
- Scheme for funding High Risk-High Reward Research
Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has approved a new and significant initiative to support proposals that are conceptually new and risky, and if successful, expected to have a paradigm-shifting influence on the S&T landscape. Outcome could be new and significant theoretical or experimental advances, formulation of new hypotheses, or breakthrough science which will lead to new technologies. Proposals that address scientific issues leading to “incremental” knowledge will not be supported.
- Early Career Research Award
A new scheme viz. Early Career Research Award (ECRA) has been launched to provide quick research support to the researchers who are in their early career for pursuing exciting and innovative research in frontier areas of science and engineering. The Award carries a research grant up to Rs. 50 lakhs for a period of three years. More than 600 young scientists have responded in November 2015 for the Award.
- National Post-doctoral Fellowship (N-PDF) scheme
In order to attract and retain young scientists and discourage brain drain in academic/R&D institutions, a National Postdoctoral Fellowship (N-PDF) scheme has been launched. It aims to identify motivated young researchers and provide them support for doing research in frontier areas of science and engineering. The Fellow will work under a Mentor, and it is expected that the training will provide him/her a platform to develop as an independent researcher. The Fellow will be provided a fellowship of Rs. 55,000/ pm for a period of 2 years with a research grant of Rs. 2.0 lakh per annum.
10. Technical Research Centres – Five Technical Research Centres (TRCs) in the existing autonomous institutions of the Department of Science & Technology are being set up. A detailed road-map has been prepared by the Department for setting-up of these centres. TRCs are expected to further enhance translational research being carried out by these autonomous institutions. Final financial approval of TRCs is expected by end of December 2015.
11. Technology Applications by Institute of Nano Science & Technology (INST), Mohali
(A) Waste Water Treatment: Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, an autonomous institution of DST, is working towards the development of low cost filter for waste water treatment. They have developed low cost novel nano-adsorbent for removal of toxic metal ions as well as organic pollutant. For this, the water purification trials for removal of lanthanides, transition metal ions, arsenic and organic dyes at laboratory level have been done. The initial trial have been done on purification of real domestic waste. The following are proposed future plans :
(a) Setting up the metal adsorbent pads at the bottom of the boats:
INST is fabricating trapping pads for metal ions and organic pollutant removal. This will be a portable pad which can be fixed to the wall of boats and hence clean river.
(b) Domestic waste treatment: In this area INST is planning to make small cartridge (low cost) which can be put at the exhaust of the sink or washing machine and then exhausted clean water will be recharged by clean water. This is kept in river cleaning concept because the most of the river waste is from waste generated from the people of the country. And if we can address these waste at the source level then we can definitely protect our river to get contaminated form human generated waste.
(c) Industrial waste treatment: Since the adsorbent made by INST’s scientist are very efficient in trapping high concentration of metal ions, the idea is to put a cartridge at the exhaust of the industry and trap the waste product and for different industries, specific cartridge will be made.
(d) Plans for urban and rural areas: For urban cities, it is planned to do the real time detection and removal of water impurities and its implementation in real life. It is also planned to make low cost water testing strips for rural people and small portable ca cartridge for instant water purification.
(B) Development of Clinical Biomarkers: Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, an autonomous institution of DST is developing cost effective biosensing platforms for clinical biomarkers like Cardiac serum markers (Myoglobin, Troponin I, BNP, FABP etc.) and Prostate cancer markers along with environmental pollutants such as food/water pathogens (E. coli and other enteric pathogens) and new generation pesticides. INST’s aim is to design and develop its own optical/fluorescence/electrochemical based sensors using nanotechnology approach to minimize the size of the sensor as it can be suitably used for rapid and field applications. INST is attempting to increase the specificity of our biosensor by generating our own bio-receptors (antibodies/aptamers) and immobilizing them onto nanostructured platforms in order to have enhanced sensitivity (upto sub picomolar range). The developed sensors will be highly versatile and can be used for other target analyses depending upon the kind of bio-receptor used on the sensor surface.
- Revamping and Reorientation of Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Scheme
The INSPIRE Award component which is meant for school children from class 6th to 10th is being reoriented to align it with the national agenda of the Government and observations made by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. The programme is being modified to encourage children to visualise/analyse needs of the nation; develop critical thinking about national issues and problems pertaining to everyday life, as well as, create awareness and inspire them to devise innovative ideas to address them. Follow-up mechanism to further fine tune the best creative ideas/concepts is being put in place.
The second component of the INSPIRE scheme deals with organizing Science Camps for science students of Class 11th based on their performance at the Class 10th Board examination. Through the Science Camps, these students are provided an opportunity and exposure for interaction with scientists and academicians including Nobel Laureates. Now, “Innovative Idea Writing” has been introduced on themes specific like Water, Energy, Security etc. in keeping with the current initiatives of the Government like Make in India, Swachch Bharat etc. In each Camp, the ideas are being screened for finding the 3 best innovative ideas.
13.New Initiatives in Water and Clean Energy
(a) Recognizing that Water is of fundamental importance for human development, the, Water Advanced Research and Innovation (WARI) Fellowship Program– a dynamic and transformative program has been launched on 21 September 2015 to foster long term Indo-American Science and Technology partnerships. A programme for natural water treatment and waste water treatment has also been initiated with French collaboration.
(b) In the area of clean energy following new initiatives have been taken :
- A new research track on energy storage and smart grids have been agreed for Indo-US collaboration during Energy Dialogue co- Chaired by Hon’ble Minister of Power and US Secretary of Energy on 21st September 2015. A new programme on Clean Coal Research is also on the anvil.
- Considering the importance of capacity building in energy efficiency for built environments, a fellowship programme for Indian researchers have been launched to expose them to world class research facilities in US.
- An Indo–UK Virtual Centre for Clean Energy has been initiated to explore integrated solution for remote and rural locations using distributed solar energy generation, storage and off grid/ grid interaction following an India-UK discussion meeting on 10-11 June 2015.
- In order to improve energy security of the country, a roadmap for Methanol Economy as a promising alternate energy source has been initiated in partnership with NITI AAYOG following brainstorming with stakeholders on 11th September 2015 steered by Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog and Secretary DST.
- Waste Management Technology Development
With the objective to contribute towards Swachch Bharat, a new programme under the Technology Development Scheme has been initiated to come up with technological solutions for the problems faced by the country in waste management. Areas under this include hospital waste, plastic waste, e-waste, etc. First call for proposals has received an overwhelming response.
- Advanced Manufacturing
Aligning with the Make in India agenda of the Government, the Department has initiated a programme to promote development of advance manufacturing technologies in the country. The areas include robotics and automation, nano-materials, precision manufacturing, etc. Call for proposals has already been given.
- Development of Bio-medical Devices
The Department is planning to initiate stakeholder consultation to identify bio-medical devices to be taken up for indigenous development. The programme is being evolved to align with the objective of Swasth Bharat of Government of India.
A Technical Research Centre at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram is being established to give a big push to the development and commercialization of biomedical technologies in this institution which has an enviable record in this domain.
- Scheme for Promoting Innovations, Creativity and Entrepreneurship among ITI Students (SPICE ITI)
As suggested by the Hon’ble Prime Minister during the meeting with Science Secretaries on 29th July 2015, a separate scheme is being worked out by the National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad for promoting innovations, creativity and entrepreneurship among Industrial Training Institute (ITI) students.
- North Eastern Centre for Ethno Medical Research:
DST has recently approved establishment of “Ethno Medicinal Research Centre” at FEEDS, Manipur with budgetary support of approx. Rs 6.00 crores. This Centre aims to undertake ethno phyto-chemical research of wild herbs available in the NE region that have unique medicinal and aromatic properties, particularly in our traditional systems. The Centre will not only give scientific validation of traditional herbs but aims to improve quality of life and economic status of local community through product development and better livelihood.
- Revamping of Science Express
As suggested by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Department has initiated action to strengthen outreach activities along the route of the 8th Phase of the Science Express. The Department intends to approach NCSTC-Network (a conglomeration of 83 NGOs), National Council for Science Museum (NCSM), Vigyan Prasar (VP), National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), academic and research institutions at 65 destinations of Science Express etc. for providing additional S&T activities to the children visiting Science Express.
The CEE has been advised to exhibit interactive models graphic interfaces and animations to make it more interesting. In addition to this, several platform activities for children are being planned to make the Science Express experience more meaningful for children.
- Recent Developments through International S&T Cooperation
(a) A new programme with Russian Science Foundation was concluded by DST for cooperation in Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Biology (Medical and Agriculture), Mathematics) during 8th Session of India – Russia Working Group on Science & Technology in Moscow on September 3, 2015.
(b) A joint declaration of extension of Indo-German Science & Technology Centre was signed on 5th Oct. 2015 .
(c) A Letter of Intent (LoI) for Indian participation in annual meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students was signed on 5th Oct. 2015.
(d) The Indo-US fellowship programme on Climate Research is being launched this year.
(e) Collaboration with USA on Women in Science has been strengthened with 20 Indo-US Women Fellowship in S&T; training programme on leadership and career development; and Silicon Valley visitation programme for women entrepreneurs.
(f) Under support of US-India Endowment Fund, prototypes of several innovative technologies on affordable healthcare and food security have been developed with a potetial for societal impact and commercial application. Through the five calls, the United States-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund is currently supporting and funding 17 joint U.S.-India entrepreneurial projects in the area of Healthy Individual (affordable biomedical devices, diagnostic/preventive/curative measures, or food and nutrition products to improve health) and Empowering Citizens (information and communication technologies, water, agriculture, financial inclusion, and education etc.) with a grant size of up to Rs. 2.50 crores or approximately $ 400,000. The joint entrepreneurial teams are working together on co-developing innovative product or technologies that are beyond the idea stage with high societal impact and significant potential to commercialize with 2-3 years. In addition to this, 3 project proposals are under the review process of evaluation. In the recent call of Sixth round of July 2015, 19 bi-national teams have been shortlisted by the joint U.S.-India expert panel for Stage II: detailed business plan and presentation at USA . Out of 19 companies, 5 have been shortlisted in November 2015 by the joint panel for further due diligence before award of the grant.
21. Showcasing of Indian Innovators in Silicon Valley during the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Under the India Innovation Growth Programme jointly supported by DST and Lockheed Martin Corporation, 10 Innovators participated in the Start-up Connect Programme and displayed their innovations. It would be worthwhile to mention that out of the 34 innovations showcased at Silicon Valley; approximately 50% were supported in one way or the other by DST. The innovators have attracted a lot of attention from the Venture Capitalists (VCs) in Silicon Valley and many of them have stayed back to explore further deals and investments.
- UV Imaging Telescope
UV Imaging Telescope developed by Indian Institute of Astrophysics is one of the payloads on ASTROSAT which has been recently launched by ISRO. Telescope has started giving images and calibration is being done by ISRO.
- Big Data Initiative
A proposal to initiate a new scheme viz. Big Data Initiative has been prepared and is under consideration of the Department. The scheme is aligned with the Government’s Digital India initiative.
- Policy on Conflict of Interest
In a significant move, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has given its nod to go ahead with the much awaited policy on Conflict of Interest for grant applicants (including collaborators), reviewers and committee members and officers dealing with various programs. The Board felt that issues of conflicts of interest and ethics in scientific research and research management have assumed greater prominence in the new era of knowledge economy. All the stakeholders are required to sign an undertaking to adhere to the policy on conflict of interest. The approved policy aims to bring more transparency and increased accountability in funding mechanisms and provide assurance to the general public that processes followed in award of grants are fair and non-discriminatory.
Department of Biotechnology:
Success Stories – 2014-15
(1) India is today a leading Vaccine Manufacturing Hub:
The Vaccine Grand Challenge Programme is under implementation to encourage novel and innovative vaccine related discoveries, accelerated development of candidate vaccines for which earlier leads are available, research of basic & applied nature to improvise current understanding of vaccine science and to strengthen the scientific basis for future vaccine design. R&D projects supported through VGCP are focusing on Development of candidate vaccines & Development of vaccine related technologies. Some major initiatives are:
(i) Rotavirus vaccine launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister : The first indigenously developed and manufactured Rotavirus vaccine ‘Rotavac.’ from an Indian strain 116E was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 9th March, 2015. The indigenously developed vaccine will boost efforts to combat infant mortality due to diarrhoea. ROTAVAC developed in collaboration with Bharat Biotech under the Public-Private Partnership mode is efficacious in preventing severe rotavirus diarrhoea in low-resource settings in India. ROTAVAC significantly reduced severe rotavirus diarrhoea by more than half – 56 percent during the first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year of life. Moreover, the vaccine also showed impact against severe diarrhoea of any cause. The developed Rotavirus Vaccine at $1 per dose has been cleared for market license. Potential to prevent >500K childhood diarrheal deaths. The NTAGI of M/o Health & FW has approved introduction of the vaccine in EPI in a pilot mode.
(ii) Malaria Vaccine: To promote the development of vaccines against P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria, Department has provided continued support to MVDP (Malaria Vaccine Development programme)- A consortium of DBT, ICGEB, Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), PATH, EMVI and WHO-TDR. Currently MVDP is involved with developmental of malaria vaccine JAIVAC1 & JAIVAC 2 at ICGEB.
(iii) Dengue Vaccine: Department is supporting the group at International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for developing a safe, efficacious and inexpensive tetravalent dengue vaccine. The recombinant EDIII-based sub-unit dengue vaccine candidate is being developed in the form of VLPs using the yeast P. pastoris as an expression host.
(2) DBT has significantly augmented the infrastructure for diagnosis & treatment of human genetic disorders in India
(3) A major flagship programme on International Cancer Genome (ICG) specific to Oral Cancer is under implementation.
(4) India Bio-design makes new advances
- Ostomy Management device;
- Emergency medical alert device;
- A breathable and customized cast for immobilization of the fractured limb;
- Fluid extraction device;
- Posture support device
(5) Major New Effort on Pre-Term Birth
Multi-institutional National Programme on pre-term birth launched
Pre-term Birth Program is the first inter-institutional program on maternal infant health and spontaneous pre-term birth sciences in India funded by the Department under Grand Challenge Program at a total cost of the project is Rs. 48.85 crore for a period of 5 years. It envisages a multidisciplinary research effort to predict & diagnose Preterm Birth (PTB) by enhancing the knowledge of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. It is expected that the clinically relevant research outputs from the study will aid characterization of biological, clinical and epidemiological risk factors to achieve appropriate risk stratification of mothers who may deliver before term. These in turn would provide a basis for discovery of novel therapeutic agents & determine appropriate timing for their clinical application. Together, it would strengthen the commitment of the Department of Biotechnology to health equity, contributing significantly to reduction in infant and maternal mortality.
- Agriculture and Industrial:
(i) Rice variety Samba Mahsuri: With the support of Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Scientists at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) have jointly developed bacterial blight resistant Rice variety “Samba Mahsuri’ through Marker Assisted Selection and Backcross Breeding. The variety has so far spread to an area of 90,000 ha in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
(ii) Decoding the Wheat Genome: A strong partnership in Decoding the Wheat Genome has been built. 15 countries joined hands to complete this huge task of decoding 17,000 million bases. Indian Scientists participated in Decoding Chromosome 2A.
(iii) Maize hybrid (Vivek 9) with High Quality Protein and Increased Provitamin A was developed and released.
(iv) High zinc rice has been developed for the first time which has 22-24 ppm zinc and named as CGZR-1 and after all India trials would be available to farmers in another two years.
(v) 12 popular rice varieties to be grown in the rain fed agri-eco systems have been developed by incorporating major quantitative trait loci (QTL) or genes for flood, drought and salt tolerance.
(vi) Bread wheat and durum wheat genotypes with high yield and high micronutrient concentration in optimum soil zinc have been developed.
(vii) First indigenous technology developed for commercial production of Ethanol from lignocellulosic waste: DBT-ICT Centre for Energy Biosciences established at Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai has developed Cellulosic ethanol technology. Based on this indigenous technology a demo/pilot plant designed by an Industry, India Glycol Limited with financial support from DBT-BIRAC with a capacity of 10 tonnes lignocellulosic biomass per day to produce 3000 L ethanol/day on a continuous basis. It is expected that the commercial plants based on the technology will be built in 2016, which is not far behind the technologies being implemented in the USA.
(viii) Under a Mission programme on microbial prospecting: ‘Drugs from Microbes’ Involving nine institutes and an industrial partner in a public-private partnership model, 2.50 lakhs microbes were screened for four activities i.e. anti cancer, anti diabetic, anti inflammation and anti infective activities. A total of 16123 three stars hits were obtained- Anti-infective- 5286; anti cancer-518; anti inflammation-3643; anti diabetic-6676. One New Chemical Entity with anticancer and anti-inflammatory activity and 12 probable new use of compound were identified. Efforts are being made to explore the strategies for moving some of the active molecules obtained in the current program from discovery to Pre- Investigational New Drug (IND) studies, thereby creating a path of development of molecules. The Country’s largest Microbial Culture Collection Centre was set up at NCCS, Pune will 2,00,000 culture.
III. Human Resource Development
(i) DBT has undertaken multiple initiatives for teaching & training in biotech education
(ii) The Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship was conceived with the idea of encouraging Indian scientists working outside the country (Indian Nationals), and who would like to come back home and pursue their research interests in life sciences and biotechnology and other related areas. During the last six years 247 overseas scientists were selected and 173 have already returned and joined various research institutes/ universities 27 scientists are likely to join in next six months. 50 scientists are selected every year. This has enriched the scientific pool of the country.
- Societal Impact
“Women’s health, hygiene & nutrition” is the current focus under DBT’s women’s societal upliftment programme of DBT. The Department has supported major programme on cervical cancer screening, genetic disorder & counseling, pregnancy-related complications, breast cancer screening & post-operative care. While education on menstrual hygiene, cervical cancer & preventive measures were conducted in several villages involving more than 2,000 women, including school girls, around 5,000 women were offered cervical cancer screening services through village based camps. A network programme on Breast Cancer Screening was implemented in 4 districts of North-East, namely Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura with the help of Cancer Foundation of India, Kolkata.
A project for awareness, counseling, screening & education to prevent genetic and congenital disorder has been implemented in West Bengal and a web based portal (www.genomegyan.com) on genetics has been developed to popularize it as a subject among medical students and physicians.
(V) Biotech Based Developments in North Eastern Region (NER) of India
The North Eastern Region (NER) of India comprises of eight ‘sister’ states. The region is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse regions of Asia and the home for more than 150 tribes. In order to give focused attention for the North Eastern Region, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has allocated 10% of its annual budget for promoting/strengthening biotechnology driven activities in North Eastern States of India. A dedicated cell, North Eastern Biotechnology Programme Management Cell (NER-BPMC) has been established by DBT in the year 2009-2010 and the cell is assisting DBT to evolve, implement and monitoring of various programmes for the benefit of NER states.
Some of the major flagship programmes/schemes implemented and created impact on biotech based developments in North Eastern States during the last one year are as follows:
- Twinning Programme
The goal of this programme is to strengthen R&D activity in the North East India through joint collaborations. Financial assistance is provided to competitive R&D projects from scientists in the North Eastern States in collaboration with Scientists from National Institutions from other parts of the country.
The programme has supported nearly 400 R&D projects, leading to more than 200 papers published in peer reviewed journals, and more than 450 young scientists of NER trained in advanced biotechnology. Every year approximately 70-80 projects under this flagship programme are being supported to NER.
- Setting up of “DBT-NER Centre for Advanced Animal Diagnostics and Services on Animal Health and Diseases (ADSAHD)” involving stake holders from all NER States including national laboratories from Bhopal, Bangalore and Hissar.
The North Eastern Region of India, owing to its unique geographical location sharing five international borders, bears constant threat of exotic trans-boundary diseases of our valuable livestock. This programme is aimed at strengthening regional infrastructure and capabilities for developing latest diagnostics and organizing rigorous surveillance for the highly contagious and ravaging diseases so that forecasting model on disease outbreaks in the region can be developed for a formidable defense to guard the territories. The programme envisages establishing three core laboratories across the NER for carrying out research and training activities in trans-boundary and endemic animal diseases. It aims to impart training to the State veterinary personnel in disease reporting, sample collection techniques and fostering public-public partnership module for effectively handling the animal-man-environment continuum chain.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, has launched this programme in NER on February 17, 2015.
- Establishment of Unit of Excellence in Biotechnology (U-Excel)
With a view to recognize promising mid-career scientists in NER, a programme of awarding Unit of Excellence grant to them has been initiated so as to enable them to pursue their innovative research in frontier areas of biotechnology. So far, 12 Units of Excellence have been established during the year.
- Overseas Associate ship for NER Scientists
This scheme aims to promote capacity building in cutting edge areas of biotechnology and life sciences. The Award promotes and supports scientists of merit in their pursuit of skill enhancement in scientific research/training in overseas laboratories for short term as well as long term. So far, 130 scientists have been awarded the Associate-ship. As of now more than 110 scientists have availed this Associate ship. This overseas associate ship has resulted in more than 20 research papers in peer reviewed journals and has also enabled more than 15 laureates in getting extra-mural funding for their R&D projects besieging training in house scientific human resource of NER.
(VI) Enhanced Innovation Ecosystem:
Under the DBT, for a well-defined Innovation Ecosystem for product development – a Public Sector undertaking, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has been set-up, supporting nearly 300 companies and 100 young entrepreneurs for innovation, research and product development. Further, the Biotechnology Translational research and industry academia partnership has promoted through 3 Biotech clusters, 8 Biotech Parks and 13 Bioincubators. Also, 16 Centers of Excellences have been created as a flexible model of long-term support for highly innovative, basic and translational research to create high quality state-of-the-art facilities for R&D.
Taking Science and Technology to Industry
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council:
- The biotech startup scenario in India was transformed by one of BIRAC’s flagship scheme called BIG (Biotechnology Ignition Grant). BIG has supported 140 entrepreneurial ideas over 5 calls at pre-proof-of-concept stage. 22 new startups were created (in 18 months) and the total number of employment generated is 231.
- Providing access to high end infrastructural requirement to the biotech community in India. BIRAC through its bioincubation scheme (BISS) has supported 15 bioincubation centres across the nation and has created 124,000sq.ft of incubation space. Within these incubators, around 199 biotech start-ups are being provided support. In each of the bioincubator, BIRAC has supported a common pool of high end instrumentation that is being used by incubate and other SMEs for R&D.
- 17 Products, 11 Technologies, 16 Early Stage-Technologies. 2 Process Innovations, 23 IP Generated/Facilitated.
- 322 Start-Ups, SME, and Entrepreneurs Supported.
- BIRAC Ace Fund – An Equity Fund for Accelerating Entrepreneurs was announced by Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences during BIRAC Foundation Function.
- Products Launched/Developed: Malaria Antigen Detection Kit, Quality Wine Produced By Enzymatic Maceration of Mango Pulp, Indigenous Production of Dextranase using Ssf Technique.