Biotechnology Helping India Innovate for the Future

Saturday, 5 March 2016


Biotechnology has been influencing all spheres of economic development and can genuinely claim a proud place among the engines of growth in the
immediate future. Biotech research-led innovation can power economic development by transforming
healthcare, agriculture, livestock management, industrial processing and environmental sustainability. No
wonder then that the biotechnology sector is receiving widespread global and national attention. Both emerging and developed nations are pursuing strategies to create an all-encompassing ‘Bioeconomy’ to
deliver inclusive and sustainable development.
The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ agenda aims at profiling India as an attractive cost-effective global manufacturing hub and biotechnology is one of the thrust areas of this program.
India’s biotech sector is currently valued at over US$ 10 billion, having grown at a CAGR of ~20% over the last decade. Leveraging the power of biotechnology, India has achieved critical mass in recombinant
technology based agricultural and pharmaceutical products. India has thus emerged as the world’s largest vaccines producer, an insulin manufactrurer
with global scale and the world’s largest supplier of generically modified cotton. It is estimated that enabling policies can create a fourable business environment capable of generating biotech revenues of US$100 billion by 2025.

The Opportunities Ahead :
Indian biopharma companies have made India proud on the world stage. Some companies are well known globally for their prowess in biologics and genomics. Some of the companies have pioneered
the vaccines revolution in the country and today every two of three children in the world receive vaccines made in India. The combined efforts of these companies and various other stakeholders have resulted in
India being ranked among the Top 12 biotech destinations in the world and second in Asia.
The biopharmaceuticals segment, which accounts for two-thirds of the Indian biotech sector’s revenue, offers a huge prospect for growth in the coming years.
Given its global manufacturing scale and the biology, process development and engineering skills, India can tap the estimated US$250-US$300 billion global
biopharma opportunity and emulate its earlier suc￾cess with affordable chemistry-based generic drugs.
Going ahead, biosimilars, biomedical devices and genomics, bioinformatics and 3D bioprinting offer the next spate of opportunities.

Biosimilars : 
The unfolding biosimilars opportunity in emerging markets in the near term and developed markekts subsequently, will provide Indian biopharma players with the next big bolus of growth. From US$ 1.3 billion in 2013, the biosimilars market is expected to reach ~US$24 billion in 2019.
India is well poised to play a significant role in the biosimilars area where companies like Biocon, Dr.Reddy’s, Intas, Zydus Cadila and others are engaged in developing high quality biosimilars to provide affordable access to these complex biologics.
Indian patients have had access to some of the biosimilars like Insulins, Analogs, Filgrastim etc. since early 2000s and more recently complex antibodies like Trastuzumab, Rituximab, Adalimumab etc. have also been introduced. This early experience with developing biosimilars will pave the way for Indian players to
capitalize on this unfolding global opportunity.

Biomedical Devices :
The manufacturing of world class biomedical devices could also generate thousands of direct jobs besides creating many more job opportunities in ancillary units. The government’s recent decision to allow 100% FDI in medical devices through the automatic route has also made it attractive for overseas players
to leverage India’s cost advantage to tap the US$400 billion global medical devices market.
With India’s medical devices market projected to grow to US$ 50 billion in sales by 2025 from US$5 billion now, the country offers the industry a huge opportunity for growth and expansion.

Genomics, Bioinformatics and 3D
Bioprinting : 
Genomics and Big Data analytics are
emerging opportunities as technological
advancement has brought down the
cost of genome sequencing. Already,
genomic sequencing is being combined
with molecular diagnostics, imaging
and data analytics to decipher the cellular structure of malignant tumours and
tailoring treatment regimens. Given
their technological prowess, Indian
companies are leveraging the potential
of bio-informatics through Big Data to
find answers to the challenges in translational medical research. Some like
Ganit Labs are successfully bringing
down the cost and time required for
sequencing analyzing and interpreting
genome data.
There is tremendous growth potential
in the area of bio-markers and compan￾ion diagnostics, which is the future of
new medicine that will personalize therapy and optimize the benefits of biotech
drugs. A new range of advanced yet
affordable healthcare monitoring devices are being developed by Indian companies like XCyton Diagnostics and Bigtech Labs.
Recently, a Bangalore-based tissue
engineering start-up has made India’s
first artificial human liver tissue with the
help of 3D pringing technology, using
10 million liver cells. This is a significant
milestone that showcases the tremendous potential of 3D printing technology
in organ development and has the
potential to save many patients’ lives.

The Way Ahead : 
Development of knowledge based
industries hinges to a large extent on
the quality and availability of skilled
manpower, presence of cutting-edge
R&D institutions and the existence of
robust infrastructure.
The Indian government has recently
unveiled the National Biotechnology
Development Strategy (NBDS) which
aims to provide an enabling and facilitating framework for preparing the Indian biotech industry to meet its aspirational target of US$100 billion by 2025. The NBDS is expected to provide a strategic road map for creating an optimal ecosystem that encourages innovation in biotechnology. Access to capital, quality infrastructure, high end
talent are some of the immediate
needs of the sector which are likely to
be eased with the implementation of
this roadmap.
The NBDS, therefore, will set the biotech agenda for the country and will help in India’s evolution as the biotech hub and the preferred destination for innovation.
Biotechnology can play a key role in
generating value accretive growth for
India tomorrow if we focus today on
building world class scienetific and
technological excellence in this field.

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