Efforts to promote entrepreneurship in the Jammu and Kashmir region have got a major boost with the establishment of a BioNEST bio-incubation centre at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)’s Jammu-based, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (IIIM).
Nestled within the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot, the region is particularly rich in terms of medicinal and aromatic plants. It has immense potential for biotech startups, especially in areas such as essential oil products, medicinal mushrooms, nutraceutical products, herbal drugs, and the wellness industry.
Enterprising ideas in the biotech sector need incubation support vastly different from the IT sector. They need a landing space to test their ideas, run their operations, have access to high-end instrumentations and locate in a place where they connect with other startups and mentors. The new bio-incubation centre is expected to take forward the entrepreneurial spirit and nurture start-up culture among youth in the region by providing support, mentorship, and handholding during the complete product development cycle.
The host institute – CSIR-IIIM, is already endowed with state-of-the-art infrastructure and scientific support for drug discovery and development of products of high value for the national & international markets. Since its inception in 1941 as Drug Laboratory, it has been playing an important role in nation-building by developing a strong R&D base.
BioNEST bio-incubator was inaugurated by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; Minister of State PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh.
“64 Startups have already registered with CSIR-IIIM, Jammu, and a fresh impetus has been given to promote startups as an alternative source of livelihood, with financial, technical, and logistic support being provided by Union S&T Ministry through its different agencies and departments. Out of these 64 startups, 14 have developed products and 4 have already reached the market,’ said the Union Minister.
The centre has been set up as a Section 8 company under the BioNest scheme of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), which is a public sector enterprise under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Biotechnology.
The centre aims to strengthen the following areas: cultivation of aromatic crops and medicinal mushrooms, processing and distillation of essential oils, value addition in essential oils for the wellness industry, bottle filling facility for product development, development of essential oil banks and fermentation-based technologies.
Among other things, the centre would open nationwide opportunities for the entrepreneurs as they would be able to avail the various other services and facilities provided by BIRAC.