Biocon Academy, in collaboration with renowned national and international institutes, has made significant efforts to train biotech professionals. Bindu Ajit, Programme Director, Biocon Academy, elaborates on the newly launched programme, in an interaction with Usha Sharma
Recently, Biocon Academy in collaboration with BITS Pilani has commenced admission for the second batch of ‘Applied Industrial Microbiology. Tell us about the success of the previous batch and how is it relevant in today’s time?
The BITS Biocon Certificate Programme in Quality Control Microbiology, a one-of-its-kind programme in microbiology was launched in February, 2016. In the first batch, 16 students were enrolled. This batch was a great success with 100 per cent placements to all the students in leading pharma and biopharma companies across India. During their graduation ceremony, the visionary chief mentor of Biocon Academy, Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, suggested that the programme should be progressively looked at, with a wider exposure of applications in the industry, thereby widening the scope of the course. From the light of this thought, we expanded the scope of the curriculum taking inputs from the subject matter experts of Biocon and BITS Pilani and named it ‘BITS Biocon Certificate Program in Applied Industrial Microbiology.’ With this, we strongly believe that the course would be more effective to participants and yield efficient outcomes in addressing the demand for skilled microbiologists as the scope in this field is immense ranging from medicine, pharmacy, diagnostics, clinical research to water industry, agriculture, diary etc.
Besides collaborating with BITS Pilani, are you looking for any more tie ups with other academies and why?
We have an international tie up with Keck Graduate Institute, California for our flagship programme Biocon KGI Certificate Programme in Biosciences and Biocon KGI Certificate Programme in Bioscience Management. Apart from this, many international and Indian universities have approached us for collaboration, post the success of our programmes and understand how relevant industry academia partnership is for the growth of biotech industry. We are exploring options for niche programmes in biosciences.
How will the industry academia collaboration help the biotech industry to grow faster?
The academia need to revamp their syllabus and introduce new electives which would empower the students to be ready for the industry. For this, we need to work with the industry experts.
Biotech industry is in a growing spree, and requirement of trained manpower is increasing. Industry academia collaboration brings about a common sense of urgency to support the growth of the sector.
Biocon offers scholarship of 60 per cent as programme fee to all selected candidates. What is your selection criteria and who decides on this?
Biocon is committed to address the skill gap that exists in the industry today. We have taken forward our promise of access and affordability to education as well. Hence, we are making high end, very expensive international KGI programme available to students in India having affordable fee. As a part of our CSR initiative, Biocon is extending major part of the fee as scholarship to all the students for the Biocon KGI Certificate Programme in Biosciences as well as the newly introduced BITS Biocon Certificate Programme on Applied Industrial Microbiology. The students who meet the eligibility criteria of our respective programmes can apply for the programme. They go through a rigorous selection process of HR and technical rounds of interview with a panel of subject matter experts. Once they clear the interview and is selected for the course, they become eligible for the scholarship.
Though a lot of research has been carried in the biotech sector, however, the result is not so impressive. Throw some light on the same
The success of the research carried out in the biotech sector is decided based on the congruence between the research that happens in the institutes and corporate R&D labs and how they converge to produce a commercially viable solution. The situation is very positive and with the advent of various grants provided by the government, the research happening in the academic institutions is turning meaningful and when supported by the incubation centres, becomes a good entrepreneurial ventures. Biocon has been a pioneer in research and as an innovation- led organisation has developed several noble biologics as well as biosimilars. The company has consistently invested more than 10 per cent of its biopharma sales in R&D over the years. At Biocon, the R&D organisation supports the business goals of the company. In this respect, the investments have resulted in a globally recognised drug development ecosystem spanning state-of-the-art equipment, a dedicated R&D facility and highly skilled scientific staff. The company’s global scale of bio manufacturing and world class R&D has enabled it to offer affordable biopharmaceuticals to patients across the globe.
Why do you think there is a talent crunch in the Indian biotech sector? Has Biocon undertaken any initiatives to overcome this challenge?
The recent excellent progress in the biotech sector is leading to a demand for high-skilled jobs in India. However, a wide gap exists between the quality of human capital available and the needs of the industry. If India is to emerge as a bio economy by 2025, we will need to ensure that we have the right quality of talent in the country.
The Biotech graduates in India need to be trained effectively to make them industry ready where they can partake in the journey of transforming India through the power of biotech. The talent crunch is primarily due to the lack of skilled resources who can immediately start contributing to an organisation after graduation. Biocon has started Biocon Academy to help generate industry ready talent and offers advanced courses to address the need of the biopharma industry and enable global competitiveness of the sector. In the last three years, we have successfully placed 200-plus students in top pharma and biopharma companies across India.
How is Biocon grooming biotech professionals for domestic as well as international markets?
India currently has approximately 725 biotech institutions producing more than 40,000 engineering and masters students in biotech streams. However, only about 2,000 of them are employed by the industry every year due to skill gap. Biocon through Biocon Academy in collaboration with renowned national and international institutes is making significant effort in training biotech professionals through bioscience courses and is being a pioneer in developing industry-ready, high-end talent by equipping bio-scientists with skills that enhance their employability both for domestic and international markets.
Which new courses do you plan to launch and when?
Biocon Academy is engaged in introducing industry focused certificate programmes which are customised after assessing industry needs. In future, we would like to look for topics like immunology, clinical pharmacy and faculty development programme and other niche subjects which would cater to the growing need of the industry.