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Silicon Valley’s Homologue

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The south Indian city of Bangalore, long dubbed India’s Silicon Valley, wants to turn into India’s biotechnology capital with its state government pledging funds, infrastructure, and fiscal incentives to fuel industry growth. The Karnataka state government and leading financial institution ICICI have jointly invested $2 million in an Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Bio-technology for training and research. The institute will also serve as an incubation center for startups.

In addition, the state has promised a 30-acre biotech park and new centers for human genetics, agricultural biotechnology, and marine biotechnology. “This city has the potential to emerge a leading center of bioinformatics and genomics,” says Vivek Kulkarni, information technology and biotechnology secretary in the Karnataka government. Bangalore has more than 40 biotechnology companies, including at least 10 involved in bioinformatics and genomics. It also has top-league educational institutions such as the National Center for Biological Sciences and the Indian Institute of Science, more than 70,000 information technology professionals, and more than 50 venture capital institutions.

“The short-term goal is to get local companies to capture a share of the growing market for contract research for overseas clients, but eventually we expect them to generate products,” Kulkarni says. The genomics companies up and running are developing bioinformatics tools, constructing cDNA libraries, and fishing for genes linked to metabolic disorders, among other pursuits.

The climate has spurred entrepreneurship. Among the startups is Genotypic Technology, launched by a husband-and-wife team, which has developed a novel process to construct cDNA libraries. Genotypic has been working for US company Quark Biotech on a technique to produce cDNA libraries from a pool of tissues, avoiding redundant sequences.

— Ganapati Mudur

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