- In 2021, the QUAD nations set up a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group to facilitate cooperation in development of critical and emerging technologies, that included biotechnology.
- However, the potential for Quad cooperation in biotechnology remains insufficiently tapped. The establishment of a Quad-led biomanufacturing hub in India will give the necessary fillip to enhance this cooperation.
- India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy also envisions the country as a “Global Biomanufacturing Hub” by 2025.
- Therefore, India’s ambitions require external support, particularly through its Quad partners, to enable its initial development.
- The Quad can establish a biomanufacturing hub in India to benefit from the country’s economic potential and address supply-chain vulnerabilities.
- Quad nations have complementary strengths that can be leveraged to create the bio-manufacturing hub.
- While US has significant funding capabilities, Japan and Australia possess advanced biotechnology innovation ecosystems and intellectual property.
- India has skilled manpower and the potential to provide affordable scale.
- India also has significant potential in low-cost biomanufacturing, particularly in the production of enzymes, reagents, research materials, and equipment.
- The cost of manufacturing in India is around 33% lower when compared to that in the U.S.
- India also aims to become a leading biomanufacturing hub with plans to increase fermentation capacity tenfold to 10 million liters in the next three to five years.
- If China dominates the bio-manufacturing sector, the way it dominates the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), it would be detrimental to both India and China.
What needs to be done?
- To scale up the biomanufacturing sector, India needs to uplift its workforce quality.
- Recent policy changes in India allow the establishment of foreign universities and can encourage scholar exchange programmes.
- To facilitate cross-Quad collaboration, the biomanufacturing hub can house all current bilateral government efforts and establish a research collaboration office for this purpose.
- The hub can also harmonize language, regulations, and data-sharing regarding biomanufacturing to secure supply chains for Quad nations and facilitate international collaboration.
- The proposed hub in India can capitalize on the economic potential of the biomanufacturing industry and address existing and potential vulnerabilities in the global system.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB