First of its kind Secondary Agriculture Entrepreneurial Network (SAEN) has been established in Punjab by Department of Science, Technology & Environment, Govt of Punjab through Punjab State Biotech Corporation with the financial support from Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India.Dr Ajit Dua, Director of the Corporation and Principal Investigator of the Network Project informed that ten (10) short term industry-oriented projects with funding of more than Rs 85 lakhs have been awarded to the Premier Research Institutions of the state namely Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) and Centre for Innovative and Applied Bioprocessing (CIAB) for addressing the unmet needs of Food Industry. Unlike other Research Projects, here the industry has partnered with the Research Institutes and has offered their units for demonstration and implementation of the outcome of the Research, thus plugging the gaps for commercialization of research leads. The Projects have been awarded after following rigorous evaluation process which had been quite challenging on virtual Platform during COVID lockdown. This could have been possible with the support of Evaluation committee and dedication of the SAEN Project team, shared Dr Dua.Sh Alok Shekhar, Principal Secretary, Science Technology & Environment while emphasizing the Primary importance of Secondary Agriculture for Punjab in current scenario, appreciated the step. This would create a strong and sustainable network between R&D experts and the food processing industry of the state, he opined.
Dr BS Dhillon, Vice Chancellor PAU, appreciated the initiative of the corporation and the collaborating institutes for creating a network of entrepreneurs and serving the needs of value addition of crops as well as utilization of bio residues.Dr Amulya Panda, Executive Director, NABI and CEO, CIAB while expressing pleasure to join hands with the Government of Punjab shared that Punjab has played commendable role in bringing Green Revolution in the country, this attempt of Govt will give a push to new revolution in Secondary Agriculture. He added that NABI and CIAB would like to contribute towards the growth of Punjab using Modern Biotechnology tools.With focus on Fruits & vegetable and cereal & grain processing sector in phase-1, the projects sanctioned under the Network shall focus on waste to wealth generation, novel health foods/ingredients, shelf life extension and addressing the needs of our traditional Murabba and Papad Manufacturing Units, informed Dr Alkesh Kandoria, Co-PI of the project.Initially conceived and conceptualized by Dr Jatinder Kaur Arora, Executive Director Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, SAEN was jointly launched by Secretary DBT, GoI and Chief Secretary Punjab in 2018 informed Dr Dua. The project is now being implemented by the Corporation as Lead Agency with NABI, CIAB and BIONEST-PU as the Partner Institutes. The corporation is carrying out its operations from Punjab Biotechnology Incubator (PBTI) which is first of its kind NABL accredited State Analytical and Contractual Research Agency supporting the Industry, Start-ups and Entrepreneurs in this domain. The joint efforts of the corporation, Network Institutes, Partner Institutes and PBTI shall be a big support for promoting Secondary Agriculture in the state.