what is a biotech incubator

For Biotech students, it is necessary to know about the Biotechnology parks and incubators for getting further exposure in the Biotech industry knowledge after completing their academic courses. So here you get complete details about the Biotechnology Incubators in India.

What is a Biotech Incubator?

Every Biotech and life science students know about Incubators. Incubators are the device used to grow the various types of microbiological or cell cultures. Incubators provide the optimal temperature, humidity, CO2, and oxygen to the microbial cultures to grow easily.

Similarly, Biotech Incubators are as a support system that aims to nurture, enhance, and provides all basic requirements to the Biotech start-ups in India that work in the Biotechnology areas.

In short, Biotech Incubators' main activity is to host Biotech start-ups. Biotech Incubators also popularly called Bio-Incubators.

Who is Incubatee?

A firm that wants to start the Bio-business in the Biotechnology sector under the Biotech Incubator for a limited time period called Incubatee.

Biotechnology Incubation Centre

Biotech Incubation Centres are the places that provide a well-established template for the growth and promotion of Biotechnology start-ups with public-private partnerships.


Biotech Incubator Business Model

Biotech Incubators always have to face high uncertainties regarding future technologies, potential markets, and team development. There is always a risk on the investments on the start-ups so Incubators have to do risk management. So supporting new Biotech start-ups with effective risk management is the business model of Biotech Incubators.

Types of Biotechnology Incubators

The overall goal of any Biotech Incubator to speed up the Biotech start-ups to develop their business network. They have to focus on promoting, nurturing, and developing start-ups.

Biotech Incubators can be of various types based on the type of investor, area, strategic partner, operational models, business models, and strategic objectives. Broadly we can categorize four types of Biotech Incubators in India.
  • Host Organisation
  • Location or Region Specific
  • Industry-Specific or Sector Focus
  • Commercial Purpose: For-Profit or Not-Profit

1. Host Organisation

On the basis of the host organization, Biotech Incubators can also be classified. The parent body or host organization can be a university, academic institution, or industrial body, corporate, government, or non-government organization. 

University-based incubators give preference to their faculty and students for entrepreneurship. These host academic institution or university provides sponsorship and technologies for their client firms.


2. Location or Region Specific

Biotech Incubators can be further classified on the basis of their regional approach. The geographical focus is a natural competitive factor for regional-specific Biotech Incubators since their main aim is to support new Biotech businesses locally. 

Last decades we have seen that Biotech Incubators emerged more in South Indian states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat than North Indian states. The reason is that in these states the Biotech ecosystem is more developed than other states.

3. Industry-Specific or Sector Focus

The Biotechnology sector has a vast variety of sectors so some Biotech Incubators focused only on a particular industry such as on Genomics, Bioinformatics, Agriculture, etc. They have a specialization, experience in a particular sector. 

They believe that that sector has more scope than others. They have good business facility services, infrastructure, networking in a specific sector. These Biotech Incubators deal with all start-ups of a specific sector from across the country.

4. Commercial Purpose: For-Profit or Not-Profit

Actually, all types of Biotech Incubators operate at the highly uncertain stage when Biotech start-up business plans are not finalized, technologies are underdeveloped and future markets are uncertain.
On the basis of commercial purposes, Biotech Incubators can be divided into two further categories that are for-profit making and not profit-making.

Some of the Incubators focus on making the source of income from the Biotech Start-ups for themselves. They can generate income by providing working space on rent, commercialization of technologies, and licensing.

The non-profit-making incubators focus on the start-ups nurturing and promoting. These help entrepreneurs to scale up at the various level of venture development.

Non-profit Biotech Incubators are generally section 8 companies that are registered under The Companies Act, or Society, or a Trust. New start-ups attract more to these incubators because they know that their main aim to support them.

Importance of Biotech Incubators in India

In India, starting a Biotechnology company in more challenging than the other types of the company due to some of the following reasons.
  • Biotech companies need heavy capital investment than other companies.
  • Skilled manpower in the Biotechnology field is not available as per requirement.
  • There is a lack of awareness related to the Biotechnology related business in India.
  • The Biotechnology market is not developed in India as in developed countries.
  • Businessmen or entrepreneurs have a lack of guidance to invest in the Biotech sector.
  • Starting a new Biotechnology company is a challenging and long-term endeavor.


Challenges Faced by the Biotechnology Incubator in India

Since India is a developing country and Biotechnology is still a new sector for the Indian market. Biotech Incubators face lots of challenges during operating the Biotechnology Incubation centers.
  • Biotech Incubators bound with the rules and regulations with the host institution that sometimes constraints on the functioning.
  • Either it is the Government or private promotor at the Biotech Incubator, there is a need for a financial stable assistant for long-term support.
  • Space provided to Biotech Incubators are limited which is not sufficient. Some of the Biotech-related works such as agriculture-related works need more space.
  • Exact or specialized facilities not available at Biotech Incubators due to the lack of funds and space. Biotech-related equipment is very costly such as a lab-scale Fermenter is more than ten lakhs.
  • Biotech Incubators need more specialized experts that can monitor the Biotech products developed by Incubatees.
  • For running a Biotech Incubator successfully there is a need for proper training for new staff and retaining the expert staff at the Biotechnology Incubation center.
  • For screening the viability of a Biotech project or start-ups before or rejecting low-quality entrepreneur professional experts needed.
  • Some Biotech technologies not viable on a commercial-scale so monitoring such techniques is necessary at Biotech Incubators.
  • Agricultural-related Biotech products need large space for scale-up trials and time for accurate results that is not available at every incubator.
  • Many Biotech Incubators situated at the location where the Biotech ecosystem is not available and some are situated in remote areas.
  • At the Biotech Incubator, the working culture is more similar to academic or research labs. But for competing to a growing business in the Biotech market very competitive business culture need.
  • Biotech Incubators need highly skilled specialized manpower that can handle their fields of specialization very well. A Biotechnologist can expert in Biotech techniques but may not be skilled in marketing strategies

Challenges Faced by the Biotechnology Incubatees in India

In the field of the Biotechnology industry not only Biotech Incubators, but Incubatees also face lots of challenges.
  • Biotech Incubatees does not get the exact facilities required for their projects at the Biotechnology Incubator centers.
  • For growing up a Biotech Incubatee to the Indian market to the International market, Biotech incubators should have strong business network links internationally. This facility does not available at every Biotech Incubator.
  • Biotech Incubatees are newbies in the field so they don't have Biotech-related business skills and Biotech Incubators are unable to help in this field.
  • A Biotech Incubatee gets prototypes facilities that are not similar to the exact industrial system.
  • Biotech Incubatees have to pay high incubation charges for their projects that are very tough at the initial level for an Incubatee.
  • At the Biotechnology incubation center, Biotech Incubatee not gets the industrial ecosystem that needed to understand the market needs.

Bio-incubation Boom in India

In India, the Biotechnology sector started by the Government of India in 1986 by establishing the Department of Biotechnology but there is not much development in the industrial sector of Biotechnology.

For further boost, the Biotechnology sector in India, the Government of India, and the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology established the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) on 20th March 2012. BIRAC has the main vision to make India a US $150 billion Biotechnology Industry by 2024.

BIRAC is a not-for-profit public sector enterprise, that registered under the company act. BIRAC has to support Industry-Academia interaction and serve as a single-window for the Biotechnology industry. They have to help establish connectivity with Biotech professional and institutional networks. BIRAC has to also provide financial support for quality innovation and product development.

Under Entrepreneurship Development, BIRAC runs six programs to boost the Biotechnology sector namely,
  • Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme (BIG),
  • BIRAC– SRISTI
  • BIRAC Regional Innovation Centre (BRIC)
  • BIRAC University Innovation Cluster (UIC)
  • Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programme (BIPP)
  • BioIncubators Nurturing Entrepreneurship for Scaling Technologies (BioNEST)
  • AcE Fund
BIRAC also supports Biotechnology related early and late-stage research and innovations.

In 2016, the Government of India (GOI) launched the ‘Startup India Action Plan’ that encompassed various technology areas. For solving funding support issues started industry-academia partnership and incubation programs.

BIRAC and DBT play the main role in the implementation of the 'Make in India' program in the Biotechnology sector. BIRAC now supporting more than 50 Bio-incubators in the country to create more state of art Bio-incubation facilities to nurture the Biotechnology ecosystem.

List of Top Ten Biotech Incubators in India

There are lots of public and private Biotech Incubators in India. BIRAC also supports more than 50 Bio-incubators across all over India. There is a long list of Biotech Incubators in India. Here we mention only the top ten Biotech Incubators in India.
  • Atal Incubation Centre- CCMB, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Aspire-Bionest, University of Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre (BBC), Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Crescent Innovation & Incubation Council (CIIC), Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Entrepreneurship Development Center (Venture Center), Pune, Maharashtra
  • Guwahati Biotech Park, Guwahati, Assam
  • KIIT Technology Business Incubator (KIIT-TBI), Bhubaneswar, Odisha
  • Manipal Government of Karnataka Bioincubator, Manipal, Karnataka
  • Savli Technology & Business Incubator (STBI), Savli, Gujarat
  • Technology Business Incubator, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad, Telangana

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