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Indian biotech chiefs underscore need for a Bayh-Dole like Act to propel research commercialization

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Monday, November 15, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Indian biotech chiefs from Biocon and Bugworks Research India emphasized the need for a policy similar to the Bayh-Dole Act in the US. This is because they see that it would be the only way to accelerate and allow universities, non-profit research centres and small businesses to hold a patent and commercialize inventions developed under government funded research programmes. Further, it will drive technology transfers, protect intellectual property and enable faster lab-to-market process.

The attention towards the Bayh-Dole Act came about as the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) is making efforts to devise a Bayh-Dole like policy to give a booster shot to academic researchers. The objective is to help the academic research centres to establish autonomous companies that will help pursue innovation and convert these into viable marketable products. This could be a drug, medical equipment or a novel drug delivery device. During the ongoing pandemic phase, the government has witnessed and assessed the intuitive research capability of India’s scientific community across academia and the start-ups that have sprung up as lucrative entities.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson, Biocon and chairperson, Karnataka Vision Group on Biotechnology told Pharmabiz on the sidelines of the curtain raiser event of the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2021 (BTS2021) that a policy like Bayh-Dole is extremely important for India to encourage commercialization of drug discovery in academia.

"Innovation is the only way that we can get this. Hence there is need for policies and measures to encourage research-led innovation which will help us to get non-linear and exponential growth.  There is a huge proposal being considered right now on research linked incentives that will actually be a game changer,” she said.

On a similar note, Dr Santanu Datta, cofounder and CSO of Bugworks Research India said, "India needs to implement an act similar to the Bayh- Dole Act in the USA. The Bayh-Dole Act was enacted in 1980 to enable universities, non-profit research institutions to patent and commercialize inventions developed under federally funded research programs within their organizations. Though CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) labs in India have special cells to commercialize scientific innovation, this arm is relatively weak and often non-existent in Indian universities and medical colleges."

Therefore, the first step would be to have an elective course on translating science into a product in Masters Degree in the STEM syllabus. The second would be to give a unique fellowship to about 1,000 students every year to try this avenue. In addition, big tech companies should provide this fellowship from their CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds, stated Dr Datta.


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