"If Bangalore is the Silicon Valley, Hyderabad is the Genome Valley. India's future is in biotechnology," Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is excited as he makes a presentation on the biotech boom that is taking place in Hyderabad.
Truly, Dr Reddy has made a point.
Hyderabad has fast emerged as the biotech hub of India. The government of Andhra Pradesh has christened the city 'Genome Valley.'
"Genome Valley is our answer to the Silicon Valley of Bangalore. It is making waves not just in India, but across the world," an official assisting Dr Reddy in the biotechnology sector points out.
The figures that the chief minister's office provides are impressive. A journey later to the biotech clusters in and around Hyderabad testifies to the credentials of Genome Valley.
Genome Valley is India's first state-of-the-art biotech hub that provides research, training, collaboration and manufacturing activities for biotech companies. It is spread over 600 square kilometers. More than 100 biotech companies are operating out of the Genome Valley today.
"Yes, Hyderabad has already become India's biotech hub. It is our Genome Valley as several leading scientific research organizations and biotech companies are functioning from here," says Deepanwita Chattopadhyaya, Chief Executive Officer, ICICI Knowledge Park in Hyderabad.
The Park is situated in an aesthetically landscaped lush green 200-acre campus in Turkapally, near Hyderabad. It offers plots of land -- of varying sizes -- to build research centres and pilot plants as per specific requirements of resident companies.
The Knowledge Park says India's future is in the Genome Valley. It provides the statistics to prove the point:
India has more than three million scientific and technical manpower; India has over 0.6 million science and technology post graduates.
India has some 700,000 graduate engineers; the country gives over 3,500 doctorates in sciences every year.
After the United States, India is home to the largest pool of English-speaking scientific manpower.
Nearly 40 per cent of the start-ups in Silicon Valley in the US were from Indians.
One out of every ten scientists in the US is an Indian.
But what did the Andhra Pradesh government do to identify that biotechnology was the engine of growth for the state to succeed?
First, some years ago, the government launched India's first biotech venture fund with a corpus of $30 million. It was a joint venture between the Andhra Pradesh Investment Development Corporation and Dynam Venture East of the US. The venture fund began to finance start-up biotech companies.
Soon, there was a rush from Indian and foreign companies to Hyderabad, making it Genome Vallaey. Some of these firms are:
Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park: The Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) project is spread over 400 acres. It provides state-of-the art infrastructure with support facilities like instrumentation facilities, incinerator, secondary effluent treatment plant, distilled, deionised DM water, cold storage and water housing facility, and animal house.
It has a technology incubation centre. A belt of 25 kilometers around the park has been declared as a 'pollution free zone.' The Park runs a pilot plant for the validation of the commercial viability of technologies and products.
ICICI Knowledge Park: It is a world-class centre for leading-edge, business-driven research in the country. The Park is also India's first knowledge network for collaboration between research. It is a 200-acre campus with world-class infrastructure and support facilities. It is promoted by the ICICI Group.
It encourages research and development in all knowledge-intensive fields. The current focus of the Park is on the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals technology, specialty chemicals, new materials, information technology and telecommunications.
Biotechnology Incubation Centre: It runs research and development laboratories, multi-utility plant, specialised pilot plant and an analytical and quality control center.
Agri -Business Incubator of ICRISAT: The Agri-Business Incubator provides business support to existing and new agri-business, developed and housed at ICRISAT. The incubator helps in reducing the risk in commercialization of agri-technologies.
It has built a network with R&D centers of excellence, universities, academic institutions and agricultural-related incubators and incubates globally.
Apart from these major parks, Genome Valley is home to the leading biotechnology institutions and private pharma companies.
The institutions include: Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Institute for Nutrition, and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.
Top private biotech companies include: Avra Laboratories, Bharat Biotech International, Bijam Biosciences, Biological E. Ltd, Bioserve Biotechnologies, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Genotex International, GVK Bio, Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Indigene Pharmaceuticals, Jupiter Biosciences, Krebs Biochemicals, Microbiomed Products, Nuziveedu Seeds, Prabhat Agri Biotech, Satyam Computer Services, Shantha Biotechnics, Tata Consultancy Services and Vimta Labs.
Chief Minister Reddy says Genome Valley is forging ahead. "We have a well-defined policy to forge a private-public partnership in the development of biotechnology in the state," says Reddy.
The government's target, the chief minister says, is the large number of scientists from Andhra Pradesh, who are at present engaged in research, academics or manufacturing in the field of biotechnology in the US.
Officials say Genome Valley will leapfrog into the big league in the days to come.
The signs are showing in the projects that are in the pipeline:
An international life science institute is being set up in Hyderabad.
Indian Council of Medical Research is setting up a National Animal Resource Facility for Biomedical Research in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health of the US.
- An Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Bank, a bio-medical research centre and a state-of-the art maternity/ neo-natal hospital are being set up by the Pacific Health Care Holdings, Singapore.