Besides being the Managing
Director at the BIRAC, Dr Renu
Swarup is also a Senior Advisor at
the Department of Biotechnology,
Government of India. During her
close to 27 years of service, Dr
Swarup has spearheaded many
initiatives, projects and programs
on variety of topics at the DBT.
She played a key role in getting
BIRAC created and making it
types of startups, ones that get our direct funding as well as
the indirect funds. The indirect ones may not get direct
grants from us but they are getting incubated at the
incubation centres supported by us.
Lot many fresh entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds
must be applying for the grants. Are there any new
experiences that you would like to share with us?
re submissions in our calls. Sometimes they might not fit in a
specific call for grant; they might fit into another call.
The quality of projects is definitely getting better. I won’t say
that that they are totally out of box ideas but yes mostly
innovative solutions for India.
How much funds have been allocated to the BIRAC’s
budget? Has there been any hike this year?
As we are growing the competition is getting tougher and
tougher. We are witnessing that the quality of projects is
getting better and the small kitty
of funds is getting larger. I think
the entrepreneurs will have to be
very careful in what they choose to
become. It is important for them
to choose the novel ideas. These
should be novel in the sense that
we are not only looking at the
breakthrough innovations or
absolutely new globally but those
ones which are addressing the
issues in India. Currently, we only
fund the novel India specific
innovations with a global appeal.
Wherever we have seen that the
bio-entrepreneurs have done
market assessment, they do well.
Therefore, I advise them to do a proper assessment before
they take up any idea.
Happy to inform you that BIRAC
is witnessing increase in its
budget allocation by nearly about
15-17% which is fairly good. We
are also shortly launching the
equity fund that was announced
last year. The delay had been due
to the funding issues. But now we
are hopeful that we would be able to announce it in the first
half of the year itself.
The current success ratio is merely 15-17%. But that doesn’t
mean that the rest 83 to 85% of ideas are to be junked. We
have limited funds in our kitty and thus we have to take only
the best. But we do advise them to come back. We have lot of
We have finalised the 14 awardees in February this year and
are working closely with the DeitY on various possibilities.
We might announce a challenge or a problem area for the
The overall budget has been roughly about Rs 200 crore in
last two years. Out of that, Rs 100 crore came directly from
the DBT and the rest of amount
was mobilized through
international partners such as
Wellcome Trust, Bill & Mellinda
Gates Foundation and many
others. We also partnered with
Department of Electronics
(DeitY), Government of India.
Our action plan is to have
4,000 startups in next 45 years. While we are nearly
touching 500 currently, we are
aiming at least minimum 2,000
by 2020. This figure refers to
both the types of startups,
ones that get our direct funding
as well as the indirect funds.
How much of the ideas presented to the BIRAC are
really junkable? Do you find all of them innovative?
What has been the progress on the project being
spearheaded in partnership with the Department of