GBU looks for tie-ups with top pharma, bio-tech cos for research

Gujarat Biotechnology University (GBU), recently set up near GIFT City in Gandhinagar is looking to tie up with pharma and biotech companies to carry on research on the lines of University of Edinburgh with which it has collaboration.

The university, which is set up under the department of science and technology, government of Gujarat, has already initiated talks with about 8-10 top pharma and biotech companies of the country, said a senior government official on conditions of annonymity.

The University of Edinburgh has received a grant of 600 crore this year to fund its research programmes and a similar plan is in the works for GBU, said David Gray, head of biological at University of Edinburgh in an interaction.

He said the aim is to produce pathbreaking research papers including significant fundamental discoveries published in reputed international journals.

GBU has been established on 10 acres land near GIFT City and an additional 13 acres has been approved by the state government recently. The university is being built at a projected cost of 200 crore.

“The collaboration between GBU and University of Edinburgh has seen blending of cultures. The government of Gujarat told us that the new university should be disruptive and find solutions. The collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and GBU will deliver novel research and project-based masters and PhD programmes in biotechnology,” according to Gray.

The collaboration would address challenges such as the provision of access to clean energy, enabling households to earn income by making saleable fertilizer or supplying power generated by plant or animal materials in rural areas.

The GBU programmes will encourage entrepreneurship in biological engineering and aim to bring innovative products to the market, he said.

Students will have the opportunity to take placements in Edinburgh, and academics from the University of Edinburgh will contribute to teaching, research and industry engagement at GBU.

Last week GBU received its first batch of students for its MSc programmes. The university provides post-graduate and PhD programmes in five biotechnology domains – Plant Biotechnology, Animal Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Medical Biotechnology, and Industrial Biotechnology.

The GBU programme is designed for hands-on laboratory-based training with guidance from a faculty advisor. Students will receive a GBU degree, via an Edinburgh-designed curricula, co-created research programmes and industry engagement.

“GBU is India’s first biotechnology university. The university’ intensive, innovation-oriented MSc programme with a strong laboratory component is aimed at creating the biotechnology entrepreneur, innovators, and researchers of tomorrow,” said Vijay Nehra, Director General, GBU. Nehra is also the secretary for department of science and technology, government of Gujarat.

The faculty student ratio at GBU will be very high at 1:3, said Sumit Sharma, registrar at GBU. The university will have a maximum student intake strength of 200 every year.

In 2019, the government had allocated 10 acres of land to the varsity after passing the Gujarat Biotechnology University Act 2018 through the department of science and technology. “Gujarat, home to leading pharma giants, a trendsetter in agriculture, and the birthplace of the milk revolution, has been at the forefront of advanced research in various fields. In February this year, the Gujarat government unveiled the Gujarat Biotechnology Policy 2022-27, which is expected to attract capital investment of over 20,000 crore for the sector. As biotechnology blossoms under the visionary leadership of the state government, it will call for highly skilled workforce and researchers. GBU graduates will provide the sector with well-trained, independent, critical-thinking individuals who can focus on developing solutions in their respective fields,” according to Nehra.

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