Public expenditure for nano-technology development in India stays around $ 7 million per annum as against $ 395.5 million of Germany, $ 301.1 million France, $180 million UK, $ 233.5 million South Korea and even $ 102.4 million Taiwan, according to The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Amazingly, India also fares relatively lower in funding nano-technology projects from its private sector contributions which vary from more than 50% in the US, 2/3 in Japan, 36% across emerging Asian countries as against 22% of India, add the ASSOCHAM-Frost & Sullivan findings condensed in a Paper on `Nano Technology’.
Still, however, EU leads the global nanotech based scientific publications by a share of almost 41% followed by US and Canada with 24%, Japan 13% and rest of Asia Pacific with 14%. In India, the percentage is as meager as that of 8%. Despite, the growth with which India is witnessing for its nano-technology is measured in double digit, said ASSOCHAM President, Mr. Venugopal N. Dhoot.
The Paper takes a look at dynamics of scientific publications and further reveals that over the past few years, China has shown considerable aggression when it comes to scientific publications. However, the number of citations which is a direct indicator of the quality of research conducted, greatly vary across regions. It is interesting to note that smaller countries such as Switzerland, which have relatively lesser number of publications to its name, receive more than 10 citations per paper, followed by Netherlands and US with 9.2 and the EU countries receiving almost 6.68 per paper, thereby, delivering cutting edge research.
On the other hand, aggressive publications from countries such as China – almost 5 times of that from India, receives a mere 2.42 citations per paper, whereas India receives 3.15, second only to Australia, thereby reflecting the credibility, relevance and confidence of the global research fraternity toward the research conducted.
The global nanotechnology development although at nascent stage is gradually evolving and not just restricted to the US and EU but is equally spread across the Asia Pacific. While the research and development efforts in the West are largely restricted to the designed and development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals and drug delivery systems, it is centered on devices, gadgets and other areas in the Asia Pacific.
In a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats), the Paper says that neighboring countries such as China are investing hugely in the biotechnology sector and are attracting investors worldwide. Cheap labor and production costs offer a great deal of opportunity for companies to employ the workforce available in China to enhance the productivity and manufacturing of biotechnology based drugs in an efficient manner. The availability of workforce that is as competent as those in the Indian subcontinent poses a retention threat for the biotechnology industry in India.
It also points out that unlike the west, the Indian bioresearch community has not favored the prospects of industrial tie ups. The disadvantage that researchers envision is the limitation of free will and pursuit of desired projects. Scientists believe that for the most part, biological research carried out by them is geared toward understanding the fundamental principles of life as opposed to commercializing their discoveries and inventions.
The interference of the industry as they see it would thwart their attempt and steer the direction of the research toward the want of the industry. Thus, majority of the scientific progress in India is not commensurate and coexistent with the interest of the life science industrial setup in India.
There is a dearth of venture capitalist firms and funds that would be willing to invest toward the development of new establishments in life sciences. Lately a few venture capitalist firms such as Morgan Stanley and ICICI Ventures have stepped into the biotechnology sector. But their thrust has been more on biotech products and less on biotech research and development. This approach seriously limits the scope of the funding and thus tends to create a vacuum in the commercial space of the biotechnology sector.