Indian biotech sector rebounds on global recovery

Bangalore, June 2 (IANS) Riding the global recovery, India’s biotech industry bounced to high growth in fiscal 2009-10 to post revenues of $4 billion (Rs.18,500 crore), a whopping 52 percent over the previous fiscal.

‘As against a decline of 18 percent in 2008-09, the biotech industry has grown remarkably well in 2009-10 and we are on track to achieve $5 billion this fiscal (2010-11),’ Karnataka Biotech Vision Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said here Wednesday.

While the industry, spanning bio-pharma and agri-biotech, accounted for $3 billion (Rs.14,400 crore), the equipment and ancillary segment contributed around $1 billion.

As the country’s biotech hub, Bangalore accounted for 27 percent or $810 million (Rs,3,888 crore), with exports contributing $750 million (Rs.3,650 crore).

Of the 380 biotech firms across the country, 198 are located in Karnataka and 191 in Bangalore owing to rich human capital and cost advantage over peers overseas.

‘New challenges such as global warming, energy, health and food security offer huge opportunities for the biotech industry,’ Shaw said at the inaugural session of ‘Bangalore India Bio 2010’ biotech summit in this tech hub.

Noting that conventional and western models were not working in addressing new challenges, Shaw called for greater investment in research and development to create niche technologies.

‘India has emerged as an attractive market for the global pharma sector, as evident from increasing investment flows into the country. We offer huge cost advantages with high value of services,’ Shaw, chairperson of India’s leading biotech firm Biocon, noted.

Clinical data management, drug discovery and low-cost product manufacturing are the advantages Indian firms enjoy in the global market.

Of the 32 new foreign firms which have invested in India, 11 are located in Bangalore, with an upfront investment of Rs.1,500 crore (Rs.15 billion).

Inaugurating the three-day event, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said the state’s revised biotech policy offered many fiscal incentives and concession to prospective investors in the industry.

‘A bio-venture fund with a seed capital of $10 million will be set up to incubate start-ups by young entrepreneurs,’ Yeddurappa said.

The state government is also setting up 10 biotech finishing schools in association with the industry and academia to create a steady talent pool.

‘Sector specific biotech parks will be set up at Mysore, Mangalore, Dharwad and Bidar in north Karnataka. Similarly, a bio-cluster will be set up in the Bangalore Biotech Park on a public-private partnership mode,’ Yeddurappa said.

Recognising the work done by the Institute of Bio-informatics and Applied Biotechnology, the central government has approved the state government’s proposal to set up a Bio-IT centre in collaboration with the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Strand Life Sciences and Centre for Human Genetics.

‘The research projects at the Bio-IT centre will have specific significance on human diseases relevant to our country,’ said Shaw.

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