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BeST to spur innovation in pharma & biotech sectors, to enable collaboration for entire R&D ecosystem

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Bengaluru Science & Technology Cluster (BeST), assisted by the Union government, is now positioned to accelerate innovation in pharma and biotech sectors and will enable collaboration for entire R&D ecosystem. The Science & Technology (S&T) Clusters are being established as formal umbrella structures for S&T organizations in various cities to have better synergy while retaining their autonomy. The earlier S&T clusters under this programme have been set up in Pune, Jodhpur, Delhi-NCR, Bhubaneshwar and Hyderabad.

These are supported by the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor on the recommendation of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) to create an Atmanirbhar Bharat through S&T. These clusters will create strong linkages between existing academic institutions, national & state research laboratories, and other stakeholders like relevant ministries, industry partners, start-ups, MSMEs, state governments, philanthropic foundations, and international organizations.

The conceptualization of the BeST is a collaborative effort of more than 50+ organizations from Bengaluru, including major academic institutions, industry partners, start-ups, civil society organizations, and government bodies. This is coordinated by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in partnership with Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP).
The funding was recently sanctioned by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. A proposal for funding for BeST was submitted with Principal Investigator Prof. Govindan Rangarajan (Director, IISc) and Prof. Ambarish Ghosh, co-lead BeST and Professor IISc along with Dr. Taslimarif Saiyed, CEO, CCAMP.

The BeST cluster was formally launched at the plenary session of the Bengaluru Tech Summit, 2022, Prof. Ajay Sood, principal scientific advisor.

Emphasizing that Bengaluru has the technological potential and that Karnataka is among the leaders in science and technology advancements, Prof. Sood expects that the cluster will succeed and pave the path for future success.

A science and technology cluster is a collaborative ecosystem in a city or a region, in which scientists, engineers, social scientists, and entrepreneurs working in academia, government labs, and industry identify and collaborate to solve some socially relevant problems, said Prof. Sood.

To this end, the BeST has identified Health & Wellness, Urban Life, and Futuristic Technologies as its core sectors. It has set up teams to work on areas of One Health, Digital Health, Precision Agriculture, Urban Transportation, Monsoon & Climate Change, Quantum Technologies, Active Matter & Robotics and Jet Engine.

As Prof Sood explained, the BeST Cluster is envisaged as a platform of active collaboration for the entire R&D ecosystem in Bangalore cutting across disciplines but retaining their individual autonomy. A Section 8 company is being set up to catalyse this collaboration as an independent body, provide organizational support and raise and manage resources.

Dr Saiyed, said that “We aim to bring together stakeholders with shared ecosystems, identify and address problems first with locally relevant solutions, but also scale-up nationally and internationally by building global competitiveness. BeST activities will be based on this ground-up pyramid model.”

According to Prof. Ghosh, the Bengaluru Tech Summit is the ideal launch-pad for the BeST Cluster. Impact of the BeST can be defined in many ways. In addition to immediate social and economic impact at a city scale, we must also consider the impact on sustainability and being globally competitive.”


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