Indian analytical instruments industry has been the domain of foreign manufacturers
Analytical instruments are one of the mainstays of the pharma industry. Gautam Rajan, MD, Marsap Services, and Secretary, Indian Analytical Instruments Association (IAIA), gives Sachin Jagdale the domestic and global perspective
Could you give us a perspective of the evolution of the analytical instruments industry in India? What are the global trends and how are these trends affecting the Indian analytical instruments industry?
Historically, the analytical instruments industry in India has been the domain of foreign manufacturers. When you say analytical instruments, you immediately associate this with gas chromatographs, liquid chromatographs, mass spectrometers, spectrophotometers, etc, and names like Waters, Agilent, Thermofisher Scientific, Perkin Elmer, Varian, Shimadzu, Dionex, Micro Devices Metrohm, Bruker etc. Some of these companies carry multiple brands as well.
However, the actual credit for the success of these companies, in a large measure, goes to distributors like Labindia, Spinco Biotech, Blue Star, Wipro Biomed, Hinditron, Indtech and many others, who toiled in the early stages of growth to bring about the boom in this industry. Over the last decade, most foreign manufacturers have established their India offices, as India, for them, offers one of the biggest growing markets worldwide. Indian manufacturers like Chemito, Netel, Indtech and some others have also played a role in offering cost-effective but high quality instrumentation and contributed to the growth of the analytical instruments industry in India.
The growth of this industry in India is largely on account of the growth in two market sectors—pharma-biotech and chemicals. As India and China become the factories of the world in these two sectors, a lot many manufacturing units are coming up in these two countries. Take, for example, the pharma industry in India. Most of the manufacturing plants are of top class quality with the best facilities. To export to Europe and the USA, these plants must meet USFDA or equivalent standards, and this is not possible without high resolution analytical equipment to monitor quality of incoming material, intermediates and finished products. The current market size for analytical instruments in India is estimated to be about $1 billion and is expected to grow at about 20 percent per annum for the next few years.
Are there any Indian players who are competing with these global leaders? What is their strategy?
Depending on the instruments that you are talking about, yes. Companies like Chemito pioneered the development of the indigenous gas chromatograph as early as the 1960s. There are many of these companies in the market today. Originally, most of them positioned themselves as import alternatives, then low-cost alternatives, and eventually offered the same or similar quality as foreign manufacturers. Some companies also ventured out into the global marketplace and managed to find themselves well positioned, and now exports form a part of their business model.
Marsap has been part of the analytical instruments business since 1974. How have you modified your company over the years to suit the needs of India’s ever expanding R&D sector?
We at Marsap believe that our role is to offer our customers the latest advances in instrumentation, and we try and identify products that are ahead of their time. (Of course, this does not work all the time!) As a result, we have not focused on a single market, but evolved to focus on market needs and growing market segments. Today, our main focus, as far as the pharma industry is concerned, is pre-clinical drug discovery. Today, we offer what no other distributor in India for these equipments does—an entire range of products from animal housing to safety pharmacology. From something like an animal feeding needle costing about $50 to an automatic patch clamp rig costing half a million dollars.
You supply analytical instruments to petrochem industries as well. How are those instruments different from the ones that you supply to life sciences and pharma industry?
The primary difference lies in the fact that in the petrochem industry most of the applications for our products remain uniform. However, in the pharma/life science research industry, each customer’s needs are different, even for the same product. We, at Marsap, thrive on this challenge of understanding the customer’s needs and providing him the inputs needed so that he can arrive at a solution appropriate for his research needs.
What is your market share in the two categories?
For the pharma research instruments, I would say we have about a 30 percent share, though this is difficult to pinpoint. And for the petrochem instruments we have about 60 percent share.
Do you represent different manufacturers for different industry verticals?
Yes. Even within the same industry vertical, there are very few companies that make an entire range of products, as the instruments are very specialised. We are very choosy about the companies we represent and unless we are confident that the companies are extremely customer focused, we do not work with them. Currently we represent companies from the USA, UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Greece.
Could you tell us about Anamed Instruments? How does it fit into your game plan?
Anamed Instruments is India’s first domestic manufacturer of electronic precision balances. The brand Anamed is very well known and has contributed to the growth of the Indian market for analytical products. These products are required across an entire spectrum of industries and now even in educational institutes like colleges and schools. Anamed is a contribution of our group of companies to the ‘Made in India’ brand.
What are your products and what is the value addition they give the client as compared to products of other companies?
In the pharma biotech domain, Marsap sells instruments for animal housing, animal surgery, DMPK studies, efficacy studies (cardiovascular, respiratory, pain/inflammation, behavioural, etc), toxicology studies and safety pharmacology. Our value addition is in terms of our technical support, both pre-sales and post-sales. Our team is able to understand and support the customer much better than others in this domain.
Are there any plans of launching new analytical products?
There are no immediate plans. We have added some very interesting products to our range just a few months ago and we are extremely excited about these. Some of these are—automated patch clamp, multi electrode array systems, automated blood sampling systems, etc.
Who are your clients for pharma instruments?
All major drug discovery centers of the pharma companies in India—Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Suven, Glenmark, Zydus Cadila, Torrent, etc; research institutes such as NCBS, CDRI, NIMHANS; contract research companies such as Advinus, Chembiotek, Aurigene, and universities and pharmacy colleges are our clients.
What is the role of organisations like IAIA?
IAIA is an association of members from the analytical instrument fraternity, whose role is to grow the awareness, usage and knowledge of analytical instruments and techniques. We have a role to play in facilitating our customers to get newer technologies quicker, encourage the development of students of analytical sciences and develop good human resources to propagate this knowledge.
What are your responsibilities at IAIA?
As Honorary Secretary of the IAIA, my primary role is to keep the organisation alive to the sensitivities and difficulties of its members, to raise matters of common interest and to provide members with information on developments related to regulatory aspects affecting the industry. The IAIA team is currently working on the Analytica Anacon India 2007 Exhibition and Conference to be held at Hyderabad between October 31 to November 2. Subsequent to that, we intend to take up a host of activities, which will further the cause of analytical instruments and techniques in India.