Scope Of Biotechnology In India And Abroad


Photo courtesy of Umberto Salvagnin

This article discusses what Biotechnology is all about, the scope of Biotechnology in India and abroad and the various prospects this field has to offer in terms of jobs and higher studies.

What is Biotechnology all about?

Biotechnology is a highly interdisciplinary field that combines biological sciences with engineering technologies to manipulate living organisms and biological systems to produce products that advances healthcare, medicine, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals and environment control. Biotechnology can be classified into two broad categories: R&D in Biological Sciences and Industrial Processes. The biological sciences aspect deals with research and development in areas such as Microbiology, Cell biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology etc. for understanding the occurrence and treatment of diseases, development of agriculture, food production, protection of the environment and many more. Most of the R&D work in biological sciences is carried out in the laboratory. The industrial processes aspect deals with the production of drugs, vaccines, biofuels and pharmaceuticals on an industrial scale using biochemical processes and techniques.

Some of the best innovations and developments that have come out of Biotechnology and allied fields are: genomic sequencing technology, natural alternatives to pesticides, production of biofuels and developments in stem cells technology.

B.Tech Biotechnology Vs BSc Biotechnology

B.Tech degree in Biotechnology encompasses both the biological sciences as well as the engineering aspect of Biotechnology. The B.Tech curriculum will cover life sciences subjects such as Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Cell Biology etc and engineering subjects like Bioprocess Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Thermodynamics, Mass Transfer etc.

A BSc degree on the other hand focuses more on the biological sciences aspect of Biotechnology. Yes, there will be a few subjects (1 or 2) related to industrial processes but the main emphasis will be on R&D in biological sciences fields such as Biochemistry, Plant and Animal Biotechnology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Microbial Genetics, to name a few.

There is no such thing as B.Tech being better than BSc or vice versa. Students must choose a course that aligns with their long term goals. Do you want to pursue a research career in areas such as Stem Cells, Genetic Engineering, Plant Biotechnology, Molecular Biology etc.? If yes, choose BSc/MSc Biotechnology or BSc Biotechnology and MSc in any specialized field of Biotechnology. You can later on pursue your PhD if interested.

If you want to keep your options open, then go for B.Tech Biotechnology. Many B.Tech students who do not find jobs in biotech sector shift to software, management etc. So, this is an added bonus for biotech students and this kind of transition will be tougher with a BSc and MSc degree in Biotechnology.

Scope of Biotechnology for BTech students:

Any student who is contemplating on pursuing a career in Biotechnology must be aware that this field is still developing in India. Therefore, the number of job openings and pay packages are both very low when compared with IT and CS fields.

After a BTech degree, students can find jobs in pharmaceutical companies, research labs and institutions in India. However, most Indian students tend to go abroad to pursue their masters or doctorate studies in Biotechnology and allied fields. Some students also shift to MBA and enter the world of business, finance and banking as their engineering background gives them the required quantitative skills to excel in these sectors. Also, many students shift to software through on-campus placements. Talking about on-campus placements, since the number of job openings is very less in Biotechnology, the number of companies coming for placements will be very less. Also, core companies only hire students from universities such as IITs, NITs etc. If your university is not reputed nationally or state wise, chances of any biotech or pharmaceutical company coming for placements sessions will be close to nil.

Since this field is highly research oriented, vast and diverse, it is highly recommended that students pursue their graduate studies in Biotechnology, Biomedical sciences, Biological sciences, Bioprocess Engineering etc. For more details on B.Tech course in Biotechnology, please read this article.

Scope of Biotechnology for BSc students:

If you are a BSc student in biotechnology or any other biological sciences related fields, it is highly recommended that you pursue your MSc. The job opportunities for BSc graduates in a highly research oriented field as biotechnology is very less and most students tend to pursue their MSc in Biotechnology or a specialized discipline of biotechnology. India is home to some excellent MSc programs such as JNU, DU, IISc, TIFR, IITs etc. With an MSc degree, most students tend to work in research labs and industries as research assistants. The pay package is also quite less for MSc graduates. Since India is still developing, it is highly recommended that you do your MSc in a reputed institution for good campus placements and job opportunities. If your university is not reputed, chances of any biotech company coming for placements will be zero.

Many MSc students tend to pursue their PhD degrees in Biotechnology or related fields as a PhD degree opens up more avenues both in India and worldwide. A PhD degree will give you the ability to start your own research lab, become a professor or head of the department in universities or be the lead for a team of research scientists. If your goal is to create a niche for yourself in Biotechnology, then your best bet will be to get a PhD.

Final verdict:

If you are passionate about improving the quality of people’s lives through research, then this field will fit you perfectly. Since Biotechnology is in its nascent stages in India, many students tend to get disillusioned with the limited opportunities. However, since the past decade, the Indian government has set up numerous research institutions of national repute conducting research in Cancer Biology, Stem Cells, Genetic Engineering, Biomedical Sciences etc. Therefore, as of 2014, R&D in Biotechnology is improving quite rapidly in India.

Companies, institutions and labs: Following is a list of companies, universities and research institutions that are renowned in India and worldwide for their work in Biotechnology and allied fields.

Pharmaceuticals: Biocon, IFGL Bioceramics Limited, Orbees medical, Invitrogen, Glaxosmithkline, Reliance life sciences, CTS life sciences, Dr.Reddy’s labs, Cipla, Jubilant life sciences, Wockhardt, Torrent pharma, Cadila healthcare and Ranbaxy.

Universities and research institutions: IISc, TIFR, JNU, DU, IITs and IISERs.

Research institution: Center for Cell and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), CSIR - Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) , National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), National Chemical Laboratories (NCL), National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology ( RGCB), Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTech) , MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), National Institute of Immunology (NII), AU-KBC research centre, Centre for Stem Cell Research (CSCR).

Healthcare: Cerner corporation, Unitedhealth Group.

For more details on the scope of Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences, please read this interview.