KTR in WEF panel discussion; moots multilateral cooperation to solve global healhcare issues

Minister KT Rama Rao spoke at the panel discussion about the strength of the latest biotechnology technologies and their potential to create jobs


HYDERABAD: Telangana Industries and Commerce Minister K.T. Rama Rao, who is in Davos for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, took part in a panel discussion on Biotechnology (R)evolution on Wednesday.

Minister KT Rama Rao spoke at the panel discussion about the strength of the latest biotechnology technologies and their potential to create jobs.

KTR said that technology and its power to act as a force multiplier is hugely undermined and yet to be unleashed. “With the power of science enhanced by the latest technologies, you will have a number of solutions and it will help in better drug discovery, precision medicine and better-personalised healthcare solutions,” he said. The Minister observed that though both technology and biology have made progress, we haven’t been able to use biotechnology to tackle climate change.

“Power of industrial biotechnology to come out with resilient solutions for climate change is undermined and underestimated,” said KTR. He explained that the government was trying to combine biology and technology, life sciences and data sciences to provide the world with something better.

On job creation in the biotech sector, the Minister said that India has a very young think force with 50 percent of the population below 27 years of age and 65 percent below 35 years of age, the power of youth in what they can bring in terms of disruption is hugely underestimated, said KTR.

The Minister observed that a lot of scientific labs in India were focused on papers and journals and not on real-world applications. “The ability to create jobs lies in bringing synergy and aligning what happens in scientific labs to what the real world requires,” he added. KTR was upbeat that by synchronising the way research is done and the way it is taken to the market, India cannot only solve its problems but also the problems of the world.

Answering a question about India being part of global conversation on regulations and emerging technologies, KTR said that the pandemic (COVID-19) exposed inadequacies in medical infrastructure and loopholes in regulatory framework. Stressing that people’s lives are important, he said that it was realized that the approvals can be fast tracked. Also, he said, the pandemic made it clear that problems cannot be solved without multilateral cooperation.

In this direction, Govt. of Telangana and WEF are collaborating to set up the Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) that focuses on healthcare and life sciences, he added. Speaking further about multilateral cooperation, he said that besides the pandemic, microbial infection, there is a huge scope to collaborate to address the threat from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). “I believe that WEF offers opportunities to connect with policy think-tanks, leading biotechnologists, technology players and take the best from the world to bring out something unique and universal,” KTR said.

The panel discussion was led by Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief, Nature. Jason Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Ginkgo Bioworks, Joanna Shields, Chief Executive Officer, Benevolent AI Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Chief Executive Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation were the other participants.

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