February 23, 2024

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India Unveils Portal to Track Regulatory Approvals for Biological Research 

India recently launched a single national portal for biotech researchers and start-ups that are seeking regulatory approval for biological research and development projects. The Biological Research Regulatory Approval Portal (BioRRAP) will allow stakeholders to see the approvals accorded against a particular application through a unique BioRRAP ID.

According to the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, the portal is expected to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation and enhance accountability, transparency, and efficacy in the functioning of agencies that regulate and issue permissions for biological research.

BioRRAP is the first public mechanism that tracks requisite regulatory approvals for research proposals online. The portal will keep researchers notified on the stage of their application in terms of regulatory clearances. It allows users to see preliminary information on all research work carried out by a particular researcher/organisation.

Singh pointed out that other than biotechnology, biodiversity research, the latest methods of ecological conservation, and bio-surveys are gaining momentum in India due to the effect of climate change on them. Research in various biological fields is continuously expanding, supported by grants from both the public and private sectors. Many of these projects fall under the purview of regulatory agencies that must first approve them before they can be launched. BioRRAP makes the approval process easier and quicker.

India is poised to become a global bio-manufacturing hub and will figure among the top five countries of the world by 2025. Biotechnology has fast emerged as an academic and livelihood avenue for youth in India. There are over 2,700 biotech start-ups and more than 2,500 biotech companies currently active in the country. By 2025, the contribution of the Indian biotechnology industry to the global biotechnology market is expected to grow to 19% from 3% in 2017. The bio economy’s contribution to the national GDP has also grown steadily in the past years to 2.7% in 2020 from 1.7% in 2017.

The COVID-pandemic highlighted the need to link research applications submitted to various regulatory agencies for approval as well as the need to have a repository of the research works being undertaken in the public and private sectors. This not only helps to understand India’s scientific strength and expertise but to formulate policies to support and bolster scientific innovation.

Earlier this week, the Ministry for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology (MietY) recently launched a portal for the centralised right of way (RoW) approvals called GatiShakti Sanchar. It enables telecom service providers (TSPs) and infrastructure providers (IPs) to apply for RoW permissions to lay down optical fibre cables and set up mobile towers. It is a collaborative institutional mechanism between central, state, and union territory governments, local bodies, and service providers, as reported by OpenGov Asia.

As all applicants can apply at a single common website, the portal makes the process of RoW permissions and the subsequent approvals faster and more efficient. This, in turn, could help rollout 5G services more quickly, for which base transceiver stations (BTS) are installed at short intervals, an official at the launch event noted. The portal has a dashboard displaying state and district-wise pendency statuses. It also offers automated alerts on application processing updates and centralised help desk availability.

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