India: The BIG leap of BIRAC to support Biotech Entrepreneurs

December 14, 2017

The BIG leap of BIRAC to support Biotech Entrepreneurs

To foster growth through innovation and entrepreneurship, the Government of India introduced the Startup India Scheme. Working towards achieving this goal, steps are being taken to promote the creation of new technology and increasing its accessibility to the market. The Government is encouraging developments in the field of biotechnology where innovators are being motivated by BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) to foster generation of ideas with commercialization potential by bringing forth the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (hereinafter referred to as “BIG”) scheme. The growing and developing arena of biotechnology aims towards the application of technology to living organisms for benefitting mankind.

The BIG scheme enables technology innovators and entrepreneurs to pursue a promising technology idea, and establish and validate proof of concept (POC) for the idea. It helps to turn dreams into reality by eventual commercialization/implementation in the form of technology licenses or creation of start-up companies or raising investments for the company.

The BIG allows investment for the following projects:

  • Having novelty in the ideas of a process/ product innovation;
  • That have significant potential impact or commercial potential;
  • Have clear technology objectives;
  • Focused on establishing or validating proof-of-concept for a technology idea;
  • Aimed at technology reducing uncertainties in the technology;
  • Generating and providing the scientific data needed to demonstrate the idea;
  • Actively managed by competent individuals;
  • Comprising technology ideas relating to medical/health biotechnology, biopharma and medical devices/biomaterials/diagnostics, agro-biotechnology and animal/marine biotechnology, industrial/ environmental biotechnology and biomass value addition via biotechnology, biotechnology based services/reagents/supplies, bioinformatics and bio-IT interface, etc.

Eligibility Criteria-

BIRAC issues calls for Proposals advertised in various leading Newspapers and Scientific Journals open for a period of one and a half month. The applicants are required to fulfill the following –

  • Applicants should beIndian individuals or entities;
  • Proposals are required to be submitted online only after registration with BIRAC;
  • Applicants are required to submit the details of commitment from Advisors/Mentors, intent of key members, and key facilities to the Technical Expert Panel beyond other documents.
  • At the time of due diligence and grant finalization the Applicant is required to share Formal agreements/ MoUs with other key facilities/ suppliers and any other due diligence documents requested in case to case basis by BIG Partners.


The proposals undergo screening process based on their eligibility and appropriateness under the BIG scheme. The Technical Experts Panel shortlist the applications and submit them to the Expert Selection Committee which subjects them to due diligence. The applications are evaluated on the following points –

  • Technical feasibility of the idea;
  • Novelty of the idea;
  • Importance and potential impact;
  • Commercialization strategy;
  • Capability of the management team;
  • Barriers and strategies to address them (Regulatory, Ethical, Investment, expertise requirements)

The due diligence process is carried out by the BIG Partner for applications that have received in principle grant approval from the Expert Screening Committee following which it is recommended for final decision depending upon the decision of BIRAC.


As part of this scheme, successful BIG Innovators receive up to INR 50 lakh (approx. $100K) for research projects with commercialization potential. The proposed project duration can range from 15 to
18 months but not beyond that.


India is witnessing a series of change whereby dynamism is being incorporated on the economic front. Nurturing the novelty of creation and generating large scale employment opportunities, it has boosted the morale of young entrepreneurs. In
reinforcing the objective of Startup India, the BIG scheme of BIRAC aids to the advancement and progress in the upcoming field of biotechnology. The investment infused under this scheme will enable the entrepreneurs to spread their wings of achievement by brining welfare and prosperity to the mankind.

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