In­dia need proper biosupplier ecosys­tem

With eco­nomic growth and ad­di­tion of biotech­nol­ogy to its port­fo­lio, In­dia is rapidly be­com­ing a global player in the life sci­ences and health­care space. Ed­u­cat­ing and achiev­ing sci­en­tific ex­cel­lence de­mands a re­ally high level of R&D. Now that the gov­ern

BioSpectrum (India) - - COVER STORY -

In­dia’s life sci­ences and health­care in­dus­try has changed dra­mat­i­cally in the last decade, mov­ing from im­port de­pen­dency to self-suf­fi­ciency, and this has cre­ated de­mand for in­no­va­tive new tech­nolo­gies. Fu­el­ing this growth has been in­creas­ing de­mand from bio­sup­pli­ers who are chal­lenged to pro­vide in­no­va­tive and pro­duc­tive so­lu­tions that not only sup­port In­dia, but also en­able them to com­pete glob­ally.

Other no­table trends in the past few years have been an in­ten­sive fo­cus on R&D within phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, biotech and health­care as well as de­mand from the gov­ern­ment sec­tor (mainly R&D in­sti­tutes). “This has led to new in­vest­ments in high-end an­a­lyt­i­cal in­stru­ments and con­sum­ables to sup­port ev­ery­thing from food safety and drug dis­cov­ery to pre­ci­sion medicine,” said Amit Chopra, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor – In­dia and Mid­dle East, Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific while com­ment­ing on trends in bio­sup­pli­ers market with re­spect to life sci­ences and health­care in­dus­try in In­dia.

Bio­sup­pli­ers are wit­ness­ing un­prece­dented growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in In­dia due to high growth in the Bio­pharma and health­care market. Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, life sci­ences and health­care com­pa­nies are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a wave of com­pet­ing chal­lenges cur­rently.

Shar­ing her views on trends in bio­sup­pli­ers Dr Deep­an­wita Chat­topad­hyay, Chair­man & CEO, IKP Knowl­edge Park said “We have started pro­duc­ing the reagents in the coun­try but a large amount is still be­ing im­ported. I am see­ing peo­ple get­ting into the reagents and sup­pli­ers busi­ness. It’s also about ac­cep­tance. The market de­pends also on buy­ers and not just sell­ers. If aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies buy the In­dian prod­uct and if they can es­tab­lish the con­fi­dence then only their share in the market will in­crease. I think this process has al­ready been started and slowly pick­ing up.”

“Ini­tially when we started the in­no­va­tion park and when we started buy­ing fer­menters, fume hoods and

var­i­ous lab benches etc., all of them were not re­ally made in In­dia or made well in In­dia but now com­par­a­tively more ven­dors are avail­able for equip­ment like lam­i­nar flow, lab benches and fume hoods,” she added

Shar­ing his views on the trends in bio­sup­pli­ers market, K V Venu­gopalan, Pres­i­dent, Waters In­dia, said” While the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal market is ex­pected to grow close to 15% an­nu­ally and reach close to $55 bil­lion by 2020, chal­lenges due to in­creased reg­u­la­tory scru­tiny from the USA and Europe, drug price con­trol or­der and re­stric­tions on pre­scrib­ing branded generic for­ma­tions by the gov­ern­ment of In­dia are act­ing as speed break­ers.”

He fur­ther said “Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are forced to strengthen their qual­ity sys­tems and pro­cesses thereby pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to bio­sup­pli­ers in terms of in­stru­ment sale and val­i­da­tion sup­port ser­vices. Con­tract re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions (CRO) are get­ting more num­ber of high prof­itable re­search projects on ADC ( An­ti­body drug con­ju­ga­tions), on­col­ogy, syn­thetic pep­tides, Low dosage hor­monal drugs, Der­ma­tol­ogy etc., from USA & Europe based pharma com­pa­nies. In­creas­ing in­vest­ments in Mass Spec­trom­e­try sys­tems for New-born screen­ing, Vit. D anal­y­sis and other metabolic dis­or­ders are boon to the sup­pli­ers. Top 20 phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are fo­cus­ing their re­search and de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties on syn­thetic pep­tide/Pro­tein based bio­ther­a­putics drugs which are get­ting off patent in the year 2020. There­fore growth op­por­tu­ni­ties are ex­pected to be higher for the so­lu­tions ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges in bi­o­logic drug de­vel­op­ment. Over all, bio-sup­pli­ers market is ex­pected to grow in strong dou­ble dig­its in the com­ing years.”

There are hun­dreds of big, medium and small bio­sup­pli­ers in In­dia op­er­at­ing at the na­tional and re­gional lev­els. Since most of the so­phis­ti­cated in­stru­ments are im­ported into In­dia, top 20 sup­pli­ers con­sti­tute ma­jor­ity of the busi­ness. This in­cludes sub­sidiaries of multi­na­tional com­pa­nies as well as large dis­tributers rep­re­sent­ing re­puted in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Com­ment­ing on the ma­jor seg­ments of bio­sup­pli­ers Amit Chopra, said that bio­pharma and bioser­vices are the two ma­jor seg­ments. In­dia has al­ways been a pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion for con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing and over the years has also evolved its ca­pa­bil­ity to serve the con­tract re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties driven by gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus and sup­port and in­dus­try-academia col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties

In­dia en­joys an im­por­tant po­si­tion in the global phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals market and the in­dus­try is ex­pected to out­per­form the global pharma in­dus­try in terms

of growth over the next five years. “We ex­pect to see in­creased in­vest­ment in R&D and gener­ics es­pe­cially. The health­care sec­tor is also grow­ing at a brisk pace as di­ag­nos­tics and ther­a­peu­tic in­no­va­tions here keep pace with the rest of the world, “Amit Chopra said.

In­dia is now a mak­ing tremen­dous in­roads with high-end di­ag­nos­tic, in­clud­ing new cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in ad­vanced di­ag­nos­tic fa­cil­i­ties that serve a greater per­cent­age of In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion. As this hap­pens, de­mand for in­stru­ments and con­sum­ables will in­crease and fur­ther ex­pand the grow­ing mar­ket­place.

Re­fer­ring to the gov­ern­ment of In­dia’s launch of In­no­vate in In­dia (i3) pro­gram he said that It’s a great ini­tia­tive and this en­deavor will help nur­ture nextgen­er­a­tion tech­ni­cal skills; pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship; and sup­port in­sti­tu­tions in adop­tion of global in­no­va­tions, tech­nolo­gies, and li­cens­ing models. It will pro­vide young en­trepreneurs the con­fi­dence as well as the sys­temic sup­port to pur­sue their as­pi­ra­tions in biotech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, and trans­form In­dia into a global hub for cut­ting-edge biotech­nol­ogy re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

The bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try is ex­pected to see dou­ble digit growth in the next few years and ex­pected to reach $ 100 bil­lion by 2025. This opens up un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties for the bio-sup­pli­ers. “Food qual­ity and safety is an­other fast grow­ing market op­por­tu­nity af­ter the set­ting up of FSSAI and var­i­ous ini­tia­tives started by the gov­ern­ment. Other mar­kets such as academia, gov­ern­ment re­search lab­o­ra­to­ries, etc. will pro­vide in­cre­men­tal busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties based on the in­vest­ment plans of re­spec­tive de­part­ments,” Venu­gopalan added.

Is­sues need to be ad­dressed

In­dia is one of the fastest grow­ing large economies in the world and there­fore it pro­vides great busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as chal­lenges. Most multi­na­tional bio-sup­pli­ers are look­ing to­wards In­dia to meet their growth ob­jec­tives and are will­ing to in­vest as much as re­quired to tap those grow­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. In­dian cus­tomers are highly price con­scious with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the qual­ity of prod­ucts or ser­vices throw­ing up mul­ti­ple chal­lenges.

On chal­lenges be­fore the in­dus­try, Venu­gopalan, said that at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing top tal­ent is one of the big­gest con­cerns. Avail­abil­ity of highly qual­i­fied and skilled man­power is the pri­mary con­cern as spe­cial­ist train­ing is not im­parted in our col­leges cur­rently. Those who are trained and ex­pe­ri­enced get mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties due to grow­ing econ­omy thereby at­tri­tion lev­els are al­ways on the rise.

“The same chal­lenges are also with our cus­tomers and there­fore sup­pli­ers have to make ad­di­tional in­vest­ments in train­ing and de­vel­op­ing users in their equip­ment with­out an­tic­i­pat­ing ad­di­tional re­turns. Com­plex­ity of anal­y­sis is in­creas­ing con­tin­u­ously and there­fore the com­plex­ity of the so­lu­tions also mak­ing it ex­tremely chal­leng­ing to en­sure ef­fec­tive uti­liza­tion of tech­nolo­gies supplied. While price is a con­cern for the buy­ers, in­creas­ing cost of op­er­a­tion and di­min­ish­ing prof­itabil­ity is a con­cern for sup­pli­ers,” he added.

On the sug­ges­tions to over­come the is­sues, Venu­gopalan, the past pres­i­dent of In­dian An­a­lyt­i­cal In­stru­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (IAIA) said “It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant to im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in In­dia

to in­clude teach­ing of so­phis­ti­cated sci­en­tific and an­a­lyt­i­cal in­stru­ments at grad­u­ate level in In­dian uni­ver­si­ties. As the job op­por­tu­ni­ties are rapidly im­prov­ing such train­ing will make pro­duc­tiv­ity of our in­dus­try very high and mak­ing it even more com­pet­i­tive in the world.”

Sup­pli­ers should also take ini­tia­tive in coordinating with academia in re­vis­ing their cur­ricu­lum and as­sist in train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties as vis­it­ing fac­ulty that will help them in the long run. They should also or­ga­nize reg­u­lar train­ing pro­grams at af­ford­able costs to mem­bers of in­dus­try as well as stu­dents to im­prove the over­all knowl­edge base of our coun­try. Man­u­fac­tur­ing of so­phis­ti­cated sci­en­tific in­stru­ments in In­dia is manda­tory to en­sure safety and con­ti­nu­ity of tech­nol­ogy avail­abil­ity. This will also help the coun­try to re­duce costs and min­imise de­pen­dence on im­ports. Gov­ern­ment sup­port and in­ter­ven­tion is crit­i­cal for success of such pro­grammes.

While Amit Chopra, ob­served that sta­ble in­flows of funds and favourable poli­cies from the gov­ern­ment to sup­port and boost the life sci­ences and health­care in­dus­try will cre­ate a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for the in­dus­try in­clud­ing the bio­sup­pli­ers.

Way For­ward

Re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of biotech­nol­ogy, In­dia is ex­pand­ing its re­search fo­cus in this area by open­ing new biotech­no­log­i­cal re­search in­sti­tutes and creat­ing many new po­si­tions for life sci­ence re­searchers. Not only in­sti­tu­tions but also com­pa­nies are now look­ing for pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tions for bet­ter in­no­va­tions in this sec­tor.

The first ever In­dus­try-Academia mis­sion to ac­cel­er­ate bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment in In­dia has been re­cently ap­proved by the Gov­ern­ment. The pro­gramme named In­no­vate in In­dia (i3) will wit­ness an in­vest­ment of $ 250 mil­lion with $ 125 mil­lion as a loan from World Bank and as­pires to cre­ate an en­abling ecosys­tem to pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship and indigenous man­u­fac­tur­ing in the sec­tor

Be­sides the above there are other pro­grammes like Grand Chal­lenges Ex­plo­rations (GCE) by De­part­ment of Biotech­nol­ogy in col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion and PMU-BIRAC & IKP Knowl­edge Park which fo­cusses on ex­plor­ing the in­no­va­tive tal­ent of the peo­ple ca­pa­ble of in­no­vat­ing some­thing unique. All such heav­ily funded and grand re­search col­lab­o­ra­tions will re­quire a proper biosupplier market ecosys­tem in the coun­try.

With pro­grammes like ‘Make in In­dia’ and with grow­ing in­dus­try-academia and other re­search col­lab­o­ra­tions, the en­tire biosupplier in­dus­try need In­dia-spe­cific de­vel­op­ment/mar­ket­ing strate­gies. Fo­cussing on in­no­va­tion for the In­dian market and cus­tomer, de­vel­op­ing a long-term strat­egy for growth and adopt­ing in­no­va­tive busi­ness models and en­gag­ing in more public-pri­vate part­ner­ships is the need of the hour.

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