Syn­gene Bets on its New Re­search Fa­cil­ity to Ramp Up Bi­o­log­ics Play

Co says it is in the ini­tial stages of reach­ing the level of work done by Chi­nese ri­val WuXi

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Divya.Ra­jagopal @times­group.com

GLOBAL R&D

Ben­galuru: When Syn­gene In­ter­na­tional went public in 2015, the man­age­ment en­vi­sioned the con­tract re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion as se­cond only to China’s WuXi Phar­maTech. Two years later, Syn­gene ad­mits it is only at the ini­tial stages of reach­ing the level of work done by its Chi­nese com­peti­tor.

“It is very spe­cific to say there is an­other com­pany and we want to be like that. There is a lot of po­ten­tial to scale up and glob­alise the busi­ness,” Jonathan Hunt, CEO of Ben­galuru-based Syn­gene, said in an in­ter­view to ET. Many of the key driv­ers for WuXi are in man­u­fac­tur­ing and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, so it’s the scale and not just lab things, Hunt ex­plained. Com­par­a­tively, Syn­gene is at the start­ing stage of that scale, he said. “We do rea­son­able size com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing, largely sup­port­ing clin­i­cal tri­als, but if it is a niche prod­uct, maybe we can do the com­mer­cial. But that doesn’t be­come an op­er­a­tional size strat­egy for us,” Hunt said.

Glob­ally, clin­i­cal re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions have been hit af­ter their clients, the big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, cut drug re­search & de­vel­op­ment bud­gets. How­ever, that phase seems to be turn­ing around with ex­cite­ment build­ing around new ther­apy ar­eas, largely driven by the de­vel­op­ment of bi­o­logic drugs for can­cer treat­ment. Bi­o­log­ics are ge­net­i­cally-en­gi­neered pro­teins de­vel­oped from hu­man genes.

Global re­search & de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially out­sourc­ing bud­gets by com­pa­nies for new drugs, is ex­pected to touch $22 bil­lion by 2018, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by con­sul­tancy Frost & Sul­li­van. This is why Syn­gene, an arm of Bio­con, is ex­pand­ing its cap­i­tal in­vest­ment as it waits to com­plete a 40- acre, $100-mil­lion re­search fa­cil­ity in Man­ga­lore. Hunt said the com­pany is build­ing the big­gest and pos­si­bly the best team in the in­no­va­tion area in In­dia and the re­gion.

Be­sides ba­sic drug dis­cov­ery sup­port to global phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, Hunt is look­ing at the in­ter­play be­tween biotech­nol­ogy, bi­ol­ogy and IT con­ver­gence.“There are world­class IT com­pa­nies here and also up­com­ing biotech com­pa­nies, but that’s a hot area for dis­cus­sion for the com­ing decade. One of things that we did was we bought as­sets of Strand Life Sci­ences and that’s the be­gin­ning of that, adding some data sci­ences, bioin­for­mat­ics ca­pa­bil­ity wield­ing with the sci­ence work that we do here,” Hunt said.

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