Biotech To Touch $5 B, Generate 1 M Jobs

New Delhi: | Updated: Nov 6 2003, 05:30am hrs
Biotechnology as a business segment for India has the potential to generate annual revenues of $5 billion and one million skilled jobs by 2008, according to Biocon India Group chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. The Rs 255 crore Biocon India is a leading biotechnology company engaged in the manufacture of biomolecules for healthcare and specialty industrial enzymes.

India exhibits global advantage through its large reservoir of scientific talent, its engineering prowess in process development and manufacturing, and through its rapidly developing clinical research capabilities, she said in a paper submitted to consulting firm Ernst & Young India.

Success for Indian biotechnology industry will largely depend on creating the lowest cost base for innovation, a strategy pursued by other nations, including China, she added.

According to Ms Mazumdar-Shaw, India needs to differentiate itself through high-value innovation. It is imperative to evolve fiscal and regulatory policies that alleviate capital intensive research and manufacturing, long gestation timelines for product commercialisation, and investments in patenting and technology licensing.

While the nation strives to gain global recognition for its biotech capabilities, government policies do not reflect its global aspirations. Investment is inadequate, funding is scarce, infrastructure is expensive, and yet in this difficult environment, entrepreneurs are bravely setting up new ventures in the country, Ms Mazumdar-Shaw said, adding, this reflects an intrinsic belief in biotechnology as the busines of the future.

According to Ms Mazumdar-Shaw, the absence of venture capital in the early days and the onset of risk-averse venture funding today has compelled Indian biotech start-ups to pursue a revenue-sharing business strategy from inception.

Consequently, many companies have adopted a services model much along the lines of the Indian IT sector. Others have pursued a product-based business model where vaccines and biogenerics have dominated.

Custom research is a services model that most Indian biotech companies have opted for at the start-up stage in order to earn early revenues to fund infrastructure and scientist salaries. These companies envisage a move to a product development phase once they attain levels to sustain original R&D, Ms Mazumdar-Shaw added.