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India's biotech industry may reach $7 billion mark by FY15
Growing at an average rate of about 20 per cent, India’s biotech industry comprising bio-pharmaceuticals, bio-services, bio-agriculture, bio-industry and bio-informatics may reach $7 billion mark by FY15, a study by industry body Assocham said today.

“The biotechnology industry in India, comprising of about 400 companies has grown threefold in last five years to reach $4 billion in FY13,” according to a study titled ‘Access to Healthcare: Indian Perspective,’ conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

India’s biotechnology sector is divided into five segments based on products and services offered – bio pharmaceuticals, bio services, bio agriculture, bio industry and bio informatics. “Bio-pharma is the largest sector contributing about 62 per cent of the total revenue followed by bio services (18 per cent), bio agri (15 per cent), bio industry (four per cent), while bio informatics is still at a nascent stage contributing just about one per cent of the total revenue.”

With revenue generation to the tune of over Rs 12,600 crore, the bio-pharma sector comprises of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. While, India has emerged as a leading destination for clinical trials, contract research and manufacturing activities owing to the growth in the bio services sector which accounts for revenue generation worth about Rs 3,800 crore.

“India’s biotechnology sector is benefitting from several advantages like its cost effectiveness, research and development (R&D) expertise and personal skills as India is now globally recognized as an ideal location for manufacturing biotech products and for conducting high-level research programmes in the field,” said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber’s study.

“Increasing investments, outsourcing activities and exports are key drivers for growth in India’s biotech sector,” said Mr Rawat. “Biotechnology is a capital intensive sector with long gestation periods for returns, hence it is important to provide an appropriate enabling environment such as incentives, infrastructure and funding models so as to make the industry sustainable, one such model is through life sciences park/biotech clusters.”

The global biotechnology industry is undergoing transaction, creating enabling factors that can lead to the growth of Indian biotech industry, noted the Assocham study. “India can play a key role in reducing the cost and time to market for new drug development through outsourcing of various component of the drug development process.”

Since top pharma companies spend a large part of their research in licensing new modules, there is an opportunity for R&D focused Indian biotech companies to enter into such alliances through collaborative development projects, the study added.

Besides, Indian companies with limited financial resources can optimize business models by partnering with larger companies for product development and licensing at an early stage as such deals are more common compared to the middle and late stage deals.

However, dearth of trained manpower is a key challenge particularly in the area critical for success of discovery programmes, noted the Assocham study. “India is strong in informatics and chemistry but still needs personnel in medicinal chemistry, in vitro biology and efficacy related animal models.”

“Traditional education system produces several chemist and biologists but they are not employable for industrial research and there is limited leadership available in these disciplines within industries,” said Mr Rawat. “Both industry and the government together need to take concrete steps to bolster the R&D capabilities by providing more on the job training and aggressively recruit personnel to fill in the gaps.”

There is also grave need to build a strong proactive law-enforcing system so that the confidence building and global perception on intellectual property (IP) protection are changed favorably to create a positive environment for discovery based collaboration, highlighted the Assocham study.

There is also a need to strengthen and streamline the regulatory framework to meet the global standards, the study added.

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