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Fledgling start up ecosystem in Indian Biotechnology - an opportunity we do not want to miss!

Sam Santhosh
Chairman & CEO-MedGenome
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Sam Santhosh
The biotechnology industry is a prominent knowledge-based industry in India. It also has the potential to play a pivotal role in the rapid economic development of the country. It is interesting to note that India ranks among the top 12 biotechnology destinations in the world, and second in Asia after China. We have an opportunity to leverage this to be a player in the global healthcare.

The sheer size of Indian population offers a huge market for biotech products and services. The country has multiple advantages - skilled resources, knowledge, focus on research and development (R&D) facilities and cost effectiveness. However, concerns about intellectual property rights and regulatory friendliness are a reality. But with a maturing industry, these challenges are expected to find solutions through better policies and industry participation. We are in a decade where Indian biotechnology companies, mostly perceived as generic manufacturers of blockbuster drugs without patent protection, are breaking the mould to innovate and develop products and technologies that are contributing to the advancement of global healthcare.

The Indian biotech sector will touch the $100 billion mark as per the estimates made by the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE). India is a known destination for pharmaceuticals, API formulations, vaccine manufacturing and outsourcing of clinical trial and research contracts. We have seen good growth in other areas of biotechnology such as diagnostics and therapeutics, bio-fertilisers, hybrid seeds and bioinformatics. Increasing expense on exploratory research and drug development has been a focus for some of the top biotechnology leaders in the country, which according to me is a necessity for the growth of the industry.

Startups in Biotechnology

The biotech sector has experienced significant growth since increased government spending from 1985. Budgetary allocations to the sector have also increased. In addition to financial assistance, the Indian government is also offering full support to the biotech sector by providing non-financial incentives at both the central and state level. For instance, the DBT set up the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council three years ago. Its Biotech Ignition Grant scheme now provides entrepreneurs Rs.50 lakh and mentorship over 18 months to prove technology ideas before seeking angel investment. Multiple public-private partnered incubation centres have been set up in different parts of the country - prominently in Hyderabad and Bangalore and are creating a dynamic atmosphere for the entrepreneurial minds in the domain. Bangalore itself accounts for 52 percent of all biotech companies in the country. Many believe this is due to the conducive environment available within the city, venture capitalist funding and incubator complexes which provide a scientific ecosystem to encourage nascent companies to thrive.

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