Indian biotech booms at Bangalore Bio

Indian biotech booms at Bangalore Bio

The three pronged strategy of innovate, educate and partner echoed at Bangalore Bio 2008. Arshiya Khan reports


Professor Sidney Altman, Nobel Laureate and Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, at the inauguration of Bangalore Bio 2008, held on 24 April 2008

Dr M K Bhan, Secretary, Government of India, Department of Biotechnology, addresses the audience at the event

The communion of biotech leaders

The Express Pharma team in action at Bangalore Bio 2008

“It is time to rub out all the boundaries and silos that we have created and build partnerships across borders,” exhorted Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson, Karnataka’s Vision Group on Biotechnology and CMD, Biocon. She was speaking at the eighth annual Bangalore Bio conference held at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, from 24-26 April. The theme of the event was ‘Global Partnering’. The fact that Merck (USA) was the global partner to the event was an endorsement of the fact that India is very much on the list of preferred partners being ‘courted’ by global majors. The conference plenary sessions highlighted the importance of such partnerships, criteria for choosing the right partner and building up on the same. Collaborations between Merck and Nicholas Piramal India Limited (NPIL), DNDi and Advinus Therapeutics were examples that stood out. The second day’s sessions dealt with the ways and means to protect and profit from the intellectual property (IP) generated from such global partnerships.

The sessions revolved around the three pronged strategy of ‘Innovate, educate and partner’. Stressing on education, Proffesor Sidney Altman, Nobel Laureate and Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, USA, said that institutions and companies should also focus more on contributing to educational institutes and non-profit organisations, which are responsible for generating 80-90 percent of new ideas that are worth commercialisation. “About 90 percent of ideas that eventually become patents in the hands of companies are generated in academic institutions,” he added. Coming soon …a biotech blockbuster

A solution to the ‘Innovation Deficiency Syndrome’ that has been plaguing the pharma industry can be sorted out if (rather when) biotech yields a blockbuster molecule. Innovation is omnipresent, so it can quite possibly be a biotech innovation. “Therefore, it is important for India to embrace innovation to deliver objectives,” opined Shaw. India should focus on affordability and accessibility, and the fact that India is cost-effective, will work in India’s favour. The generics and biosimilars that India has an advantage on will also be a helping hand. “We need to focus on the problem of affordability and accessibility, and this is exactly where partnerships will come into play,” remarked Shaw.

This year’s event had a large number of French companies participating and spelling out the reason for this, H E Jerome Bonnafont, Ambassador of France in India, said, “The dynamism of this sector is amazing and most promising in the developing worlds. And we are here to better the partnerships between India and France.”

Indian culture

India has always proved to be a successful partner and lived up to the expectations of its allies. Throwing light on this, Dr M K Bhan, Secretary, Government of India, Department of Biotechnology, said, “It is deeply ingrained in the Indian culture to deliver on partnerships.” Elaborating further, he said that there are tremendous social challenges that exist and biotech is the immediate potential solution to all of them. Bhan also highlighted the concern of laying the foundation of education for training people, measures to strengthen partnering and building strong partnerships. In order to solve these issues partnerships are important. “It’s not only for profit, but also learning through experience of the partner,” he said. Striking the same cord, Dr Villoo Morawala Patell, Founder, Chairperson and Managing Director, Avesthagen said, “Indians have the ability to create companies cost effectively and that is India’s core competency.” So it is quite inevitable that partnerships are indispensable for survival as well as to be more competitive. Signing off, Sudhakar Rao, Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, pointed out, “Biotech sector has achieved 35 percent growth in the past few years. Karnataka became a preferred location for foreign investments.” And in the next three four years biotech would provide a lead to other sectors on how to work together, predicted Bhan.

After completing 14 successful years, Express Pharma has now launched Express Biotech. We had always covered the biotech sector, but since our readers wanted us to have a sharper focus on biotech, we thought biotech has grown big enough to have its own space hence a bi-monthly supplement Express Biotech.

And what better place to showcase the inaugural issue than Bangalore Bio—India’s biggest biotech show. Audience response was very encouraging. Through the three different sections—Market, Management and Technology—we aim to cover every facet of the biotech industry. Look forward to more in our next supplement, due in June 16.

arshiya.khan@expressindia.com