With a view to boost export and attract industry in Life Sciences & Biotechnology sector in Punjab as envisioned by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Punjab Biotechnology Incubator (PBTI), which saw construction of its building in Knowledge City, Sector-81 virtually inaugurated by the Chief Minister on Independence Day, has come a long way since it was conceptualized by its founder CEO Dr. S.S. Marwaha in 2005.
Disclosing this, Principal Secretary Science, Technology and Environment, Alok Shekhar said that the as part of the commitment of State Government to ramp up the biotechnology sector, the building of PBTI is coming up at a cost of Rs. 31 Crore over an area of 1 acre land even amid the COVID-19 lockdown. A provision for establishing Plug & Play facility, Common Instrumentation Facility, Skill up gradation Centre and PBTI-PPCB joint Environment Resource Centre has been kept in the new building apart from expansion of existing facilities, added the Principal Secretary.
From humble beginnings from basement in Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, and has grown manifolds over the years with the support of State Government and various ministries of Government of India including Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Health& Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare and Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, revealed the Principal Secretary.
Sharing more details, CEO, PBTI Dr. Ajit Kaur Dua said that keeping in view the current pandemic, the PBTI has also established COVID-19 testing lab in record time with capacity of 1000 tests per day and contributed in State’s initiative to enhance testing capacity through Non-Medico laboratories. The essential analytical services provided by PBTI during COVID lockdown made the export of rice from Punjab possible.
Based on the cluster concept in Saskatoon, Canada, the PBTI has the credit of being the 1st public sector multi field National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited Lab in Punjab with more than 2500 parameters covered under its scope, 1st Lab India to establish Nuclear techniques based Honey Authenticity testing facilities in 2015, 1st lab in Punjab to have 15 National & State level recognitions including Referral status under Food Safety & Standards Act, Seeds Act, Water Act & Air Act and approval of FSSAI as National Reference Laboratory for Honey, said the CEO.
Dr. Dua further pointed out that in addition to analytical services, PBTI is also providing Consultancy, Skill enhancement, Human Resource Development and start-up support services. Having gained recognition as Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the PBTI has successfully executed various Industry sponsored projects as well as R&D projects of state importance, the major being evaluation of Rural water supply schemes in Punjab for Department of Water Supply and Sanitation (DWSS) based on which informed decisions regarding mitigation technologies and operation of RO systems were taken.
Besides providing support of technical nature to the Punjab Food and Drug Administration (FDA) & DWSS labs and other State Food labs in the country, it is also knowledge partner for establishment and operations of laboratories throughout India. Gaining fame as international linkages with UN- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for joint work on Food Authenticity, has also added another feather to its cap, added Dr. Dua.
Notably, taking note of the success achieved by PBTI, the State Government in 2019 notified it as State Analytical Agency in Agri, Food, Water & Environment sectors and also entrusted with the responsibility to steer Mission Biotech Punjab. Punjab State Biotech Corporation also started operating from PBTI in 2019 which is involved in setting up of Life Sciences Park as well as establishing Secondary Agriculture Entrepreneurial Network with the support from Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) set up Department of Biotechnology. This has lead to industries, exporters, traders, farmers, Bee-keepers, Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and regulators of the country in general & Punjab in particular getting benefitted by the availability of these facilities at their doorstep. This has not only helped the users to save their time in sending the samples to other parts of the country or outside India, as well as saved the outflow of cash from the state.