Hurdles may delay India’s bid for global leadership in synthetic biology
Synthetic biology is a rapidly evolving field that involves design and construction of biological systems and organisms for various applications
The regulatory environment can be complex and time-consuming, with regulations varying from state to state. This can create additional hurdles for synthetic biology startups looking to bring their products to the market and may discourage investors who are looking for a more streamlined path to commercialization
Synthetic biology is a rapidly evolving field that involves the design and construction of biological systems and organisms for various applications.
According to a report by Markets and Markets, the global synthetic biology market was valued at $5.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.9 per cent from 2021 to 2026, reaching a market size of $18.9 billion by 2026.
Another report by Grand View Research estimates the global synthetic biology market size to be $9.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23.5 per cent from 2021 to 2028, reaching a market size of $56.1 billion by 2028.
India, with its strong scientific and engineering expertise, can benefit greatly from synthetic biology in several ways, especially the economic growth by creating new industries and jobs, attracting foreign investment, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Synthetic biology will play a major role in the future across areas-Improved healthcare: Synthetic biology can be used to develop new and effective drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools to combat diseases prevalent in the country. This can help improve public health and reduce healthcare costs.
Agricultural productivity:It can be used to develop crops that are resistant to pests and diseases or have improved nutritional value. This can help increase agricultural productivity and food security.
Environmental sustainability: Synthetic biology will help reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes by developing new bio-based materials, fuels and chemicals that are sustainable and eco-friendly.
Education and research:On a different level, it can provide opportunities for education and research, as it requires interdisciplinary skills and expertise. It can help build a strong foundation for science education and foster scientific research and innovation in India.
Synthetic biology has the potential to revolutionize various sectors and help the country address some of its pressing challenges. However, the growth is not happening at the pace that it should be. There are a number of reasons for this-Lack of understanding: Venture capital firms may not fully understand the potential of synthetic biology and the biotech industry in general, leading them to shy away from investing in this area. They may view it as too risky or an unfamiliar terrain and instead opt for the more traditional industries.
Funding constraints: Another challenge facing synthetic biology startups is a lack of funding opportunities. While there are a number of incubators and accelerators that support biotech startups, there is a limited pool of venture capital available for investment, particularly for early-stage Indian companies.
Regulatory barriers:The regulatory environment can be complex and time-consuming, with regulations varying from state to state. This can create additional hurdles for synthetic biology startups looking to bring their products to the market and may discourage investors who are looking for a more streamlined path to commercialization.
Intellectual Property Rights:Intellectual property protection is crucial for synthetic biology startups as it allows them to secure funding, attract partners and enter the market. However, India's IP laws are perceived by foreigners as being too complicated and many synthetic biology startups struggle to navigate the system.
Limited market size:The size of the Indian market may also be a limiting factor for synthetic biology startups. While there is significant potential for biotech products and services, the market size may not be large enough to justify the level of investment required to develop and scale a synthetic biology startup in the country.
Synthetic biology is a very promising area and if India provides the necessary impetus, we could attain global leadership on a sustainable platform in the next decade.