Biotech companies start to eye Kerala
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Biotech companies start to eye Kerala

Friday, 25 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Known for its rich biodiversity and huge reserves of herbs, Kerala is suddenly catching the eye of biotechnology companies.

Bangalore-based Avesthagen has just arrived in the state seeking to "co-develop new products".

"We have come into Kerala to foster a long-term relationship to co-develop new products because we are basically an intellectual property rights-driven company," said Avesthagen founder and CEO Villoo M. Patell.

"We want an MoU (memorandum of understanding) to be signed with the Kerala government, one that is straight and simple."

Set up three years ago, Avesthagen is into promoting research and development (R&D) relationships and services worldwide.

Patell told IANS: "I will be back in six weeks and until then I wouldn't like to reveal anything more on what sort of relationship we would have. Kerala has tremendous potential in this arena."

Kerala is considered a storehouse of precious herbs and aromatic plants but does not have much documented literature on this resource. State officials said this was where companies like Avesthagen could help.

The state's special officer for biotechnology Rajiv Vasudevan said firms like Avesthagen would work closely with several state and central institutions in Kerala like the Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute, Regional Research Laboratory and Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

Saji Salam, a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII's) National Healthcare Committee, said the state government would have to play a proactive role if it hoped to attract a large biotechnology presence.

He said the authorities would have to provide an environment conducive to work and entrepreneurship as it was a critical success factor for the biotechnology industry to take off at global standards.

"The government has to ensure that policies do not exist merely on paper but move to implementation phase," Salam said.

"They have a role to play in galvanising the finance sector by establishing funds that are invested in the biotech start-ups. The banking sector in states such as Kerala with a poor credit deposit ratio could be motivated to invest more in this sector. A proactive government would be a vital enabler."
Source: IANS
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