‘Biotechnology is recognised the world over as the technology of the future’

‘Biotechnology is recognised the world over as the technology of the future’

Dr Ashok K Sadhukhan, Vice Chairman, All India Biotech Associations and Treasurer, Federation of Asian Biotech Associations (FABA) and Technical Director, Saamya Biotech speaks on the opportunities and challenges of the biotechnology sector, with Arshiya Khan

How is BioAsia 2008 different from the previous year?

The scientific sessions of BioAsia 2008 is focused on thrust areas like – stem cells and tissue engineering, nanotechnology, translational research, biopharmaceuticals, food biotechnology, biofuels and genetically modified (GM) crops. The highlight is the participation of two Nobel Laureates – Sir Martin J Evans (2007) and Professor Barry J Marshall (2005) who have kindly agreed to address this conference in their respective field of expertise. The conference has a forum for CEOs of biotech industries and heads of other institutions to meet and interact with participants.

What are the tangible benefits of such conferences?

BioAsia has three major components. Main focus is on the ‘Global bio business forum’. This is a Business 2 Business meeting (Biopartnering) between technology seekers and technology providers, which leads to successful collaborations. BioAsia has been working as a catalyst in attracting the international community, promoting local investment, with already invested amount crossing Rs 320 crore and committed investments of about Rs 1730 crore in the pipeline, together making reaching about Rs 2050 crore. These investments are generating an employment for about 60,000 people. Secondly, the conference has scientific sessions to promote interaction among industry, academia, researchers and venture capitalists. Over 20 internationally renowned scientists will deliver talks related to all emerging areas of biotechnology and business opportunities in this BioAsia 2008. Third attraction is the exhibition and road show of equipment manufacturers and bio suppliers from India and abroad. You will have a chance to visit a number of companies covering technology providers, manufacturers of equipment, plant and machineries, and biotech products for human, animal and agricultural uses under one roof.

What are the investment opportunities in this sector?

The field is so diversified, I can only say that “Sky is the Limit”.

Could you tell us about the key markets for biotech sector?

Biotech is recognised the world over as the technology of the future. Today, the Indian biotech sector has attained critical mass in manufacturing as well as research services and has slowly built a market for biotech products. The key markets (in terms of revenue generation) are – biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, industrial enzymes, agri-biotech products, diagnostic products, contract research, clinical research, bioinformatics etc.

What are the concern areas of this sector?

Availability of trained manpower and retention of experienced personnel are the key concerns of this sector. Besides this, getting regulatory clearances is another hurdle.

What are the advantages of having biotech parks?

Biotech parks are useful in providing single window for regulatory clearances, tax holidays, basic infrastructure, quality water, common utility services and common effluent treatment etc.

What initiatives are being undertaken by the government to boost growth of this sector?

The Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) has taken a proactive lead in creating infrastructure, developing favourable business environment and providing funding opportunities in the form of venture capital through APIDC – Venture Capital for biotech industries. Genome Valley is India’s first biotech cluster with 600 sq km, supporting establishment of several biotech parks including SP Biotech Park and ICICI Knowledge Park. Government has also supported establishment of Agri Science Biotech Park, etc. In addition, the Government of AP has already taken major initiatives in:

  • Preparation of compendium of state biotech resources.

  • Update biotech policy in line with national policy.

  • Creation of international animal resource facility and biotech incubation centre in collaboration with central Government.

  • Allocation of additional 600 acres for biotech parks at Karkapatla.

What is the role played by the private sector?

The opportunities in biotech areas have created a number of young and dynamic entrepreneurs and many of them are very successful like, Krebs Biochemicals, Shanta Biotechnic, Bharat International, Zenotech, Transgene Biotech, Avesthagen and many others. Biocon, Serum Institute, Biological Evans, Panacea Biotec and others are pioneer in creating biotech revolution in our country. Reliance Life Science is coming in a big way in biotech products.

Where do you envision Indian biotech sector by 2020?

2020 is too far away. I feel we could achieve around $ 5 billion by 2010.

arshiya.khan@expressindia.com