India currently has the world’s second-largest population along with a fast-growing economy and significant economic disparity. It also continues to experience a high rate of infectious disease and increasingly higher rates of chronic diseases. However, India cannot afford to import expensive technologies and therapeutics nor can it, as an emerging economy, emulate the health-delivery systems of the developed world. Instead, to address these challenges it is looking to biotechnology-based innovation in the field of genomics. The Indian Genome variation (IGv) consortium, a government-funded collaborative network among seven local institutions, is a reflection of these efforts. The IGv has recently developed the first large-scale database of genomic diversity in the Indian population that will facilitate research on disease predisposition, adverse drug reactions and population migration. © 2008 Macmillan Publishers Limited.