The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $125 million loan agreement to support India in developing an innovative biopharmaceutical and medical devices industry, which is globally competitive and addresses the country’s major concerns around barriers to affordable healthcare.

The Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project (I3) will support Government of India’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Program (BIRAC), set up five years ago to support innovative start-ups and collaborations through strategic partnerships.

This project, will nurture next generation technical skills; provide companies with advanced shared facilities to conduct clinical validation; link clinical trial sites with networks of expert advisors and international bodies; and strengthen all institutions involved in the facilitation and adoption of global innovations, technologies, and licensing models.

The agreement for the Project was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Mohd. Aslam, Managing Director, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC); and Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank

BIRAC will now scale-up its efforts across the industry and focus on providing the ingredients that are currently missing in India’s biopharma innovation ecosystem. It will facilitate a more collaborative research and development environment (R&D), leverage the expertise of local and international players from both the public and private sectors, and make India more competitive. It will also help create an ecosystem that facilitates development of a continuous pipeline of products in the health sector. This will help India emerge as a low-cost healthcare provider for the world.

World Bank arm IFC (International Finance Corporation) has already backed quite a few Indian startups like Byju's, Lenskart, Bigbasket and Blackbuck, with ticket sizes upwards of $5 million at Series-B stage and onwards.

The IFC has, of late, been bullish on expanding its venture capital portfolio, with its venture investment portfolio standing at around $500 million till mid-2016. Over the past five-to-six years, IFC has made investments to the tune of $700 million both in direct venture investments and in venture capital funds across 15 countries.

Takeaway for Startups in India from This Agreement

As BIRAC came into existence for motive of supporting early and late stage startups in the field of bio-pharmaceuticals and medical device segment, the capital it will receive from World Bank can be accessed by startups in the form of grant-in-aid by enrolling its assistance programme and incubation it offers.

Additionally, it is to be noted that there's exclusive fund called "Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Fund" ("SEED Fund") of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) hosted by Entrepreneurship Development Center (Venture Center), which is supported by the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

Startups, working in areas of can get capital from one of the source mentioned above to access the $125 million fund from World Bank.

Source: The World Bank

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