Indian government plans to set up Rs 500 crore VC fund for pharma industry

The Indian government plans to set up Rs 500 crore venture capital fund to boost domestic pharma industry and provide cheaper loans to entities looking to establish or upgrade manufacturing facilities.

The government is working on various proposals, including single window clearance for drug approvals, to rejuvenate the local pharma sector and make medicines more affordable. The steps were suggested by a task force formed by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) in a report submitted to Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar. While releasing the report last week, Kumar had said this is in line with the government's agenda of promoting 'Make in India' and the Ministry will take action on all the steps suggested by the task force. In the report, the task force had also said the DoP may also come up with seed capital and facilitate funding with other financial institutions for the medium and small scale pharmaceuticals industry. The panel in the report titled 'Recommendations of the Task Force on Enabling Private Sector to lead the growth of Pharmaceutical Industry', has said DoP may come up with a pharmaceutical specific venture fund, for channelising public resources into drug design and discovery. "Pharmaceutical Department is working on a proposal for setting up of a venture capital fund with corpus of about Rs 500 crore ($ 110 million). Once the proposal is finalised, it will be moved to the Finance Ministry," a source told PTI. Besides this the source added that department is also working on all other proposals including providing soft loan and interest subsidy to the industry as mentioned in the report of the task force. In the report, the task force has suggested that DoP may launch a scheme for giving financial assistance in form of soft loan or interest subsidy for upgradation of selected manufacturing facilities to the industry. The soft loan and interest subsidy is recommended for the industry to compete in the highly regulated markets of United States, Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom among other international markets. Meanwhile, Ananth Kumar had also said that government will set up a committee chaired by Pharmaceuticals Secretary to suggest a mechanism for single-window clearance for the pharmaceuticals industry. Kumar had also said that the government is planning to approve six pharma parks this year at an estimated investment of Rs 180 crore to promote pharmaceuticals manufacturing. The market size of India's pharmaceutical industry is estimated at about Rs 2 lakh crore.

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