30 Minute Interview
‘Selling is not just a matter of sales force’
Concordas, a professional service company providing research, development and commercialisation services to life sciences industries, has recently joined the OPPI. It is now the first British professional services company to join the premier trade association for pharmaceutical MNCs and R&D in India. Colin Greenstreet, Founder and Chief Executive discusses Concordas’s plans for India with Sonal Shukla.
Why do you prefer India as a destination to leverage your professional services?
I visited India in 1998 as the Head of a scientific and Business delegation from GlaxoWellcome plc. I had been asked by the R&D Executive Committee to look at R&D prospects outside USA and Europe. During my visit to India, I had a chance to meet pharma professionals in leading companies like Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy’s. I could also view government and private research facilities and understand the medical and clinical trial infrastructure. We were impressed by the intellectual capital in the country—the people, their education levels, skills and energy.
As an entrepreneur, I have returned to India and building a professional services company which combines the best of the West and India. The opportunity to work with a highly educated, skilled, and motivated group of employees is what attracted us to the country.
What kind of marketing services are you planning to offer to the pharma industry?
Indian companies are realising the need for strategic marketing. They require consultancy skills both for the domestic market as well as for their growing portfolio of later stage NCEs under development targeted at world markets
Our US and European clients are sophisticated marketers, but they face challenges of a high cost base, relatively poor productivity and a huge unfulfilled need for marketing insight early in the R&D process. Our consultancy services are offered with a view to help them overcome their marketing challenges. We help both the R&D and commercial sides of our US and European clients. On the KPO side, we take on more routine tasks of in-house market research and analytical groups to allow our clients to focus their resources on high value added and revenue generating activities.
Indian companies are realising the need for strategic marketing. They require consultancy skills both for the domestic market as well as for their growing portfolio of later stage NCEs under development targeted at world markets. Our knowledge of western markets and marketing practices and tools makes us a unique consul-tancy partner for Indian companies as they develop their portfolios.
Do you plan to offer any special package designed particularly to suit the needs of the Indian pharma industry?
We are right now looking at offering consultancy services and not KPO services to the Indian companies. This is because we believe that Indian companies are internationalising and that they will need partners to assist with marketing and consulting skills.
The domestic Indian market is changing. Western companies are now increasingly launching new products in the Indian domestic market with the implementation of intellectual property rights. Indian companies themselves will be launching patent protected products. This gives them an opportunity to differentiate their products not only on the basis of price but also on parameters like value and information. So, selling is not just a matter of sales force but of strategic positioning.
Right now, we are in talks with a number of Indian companies about assisting them with both commercial and R&D matters. Our primary focus will be assisting them in issues related to international marketing.
Can you give prominent examples of internationalisation of Indian companies for R&D?
Since 1998, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has changed enormously. In 1998 Ranbaxy and Dr Reddy’s were pioneering R&D, and were pursuing strategies of internationalisation. In 2006, there are 10 to 15 Indian pharmaceutical companies building R&D capabilities, acquiring foreign marketing operations and exploring foreign R&D and commercial partnerships. International revenue has been growing much faster than domestic revenue. There has been a huge shift in the mindset. I meet many senior Indian pharma professionals at international airports and conferences who are on the move to build their busi-nesses not just in USA or Europe but also in Brazil, Russia, Africa and China. Specific examples include Torrent Pharmaceuticals, which has established several interesting and creative R&D partnerships with international pharmaceutical companies, and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, which is pursuing an exciting policy of international acquisition and marketing expansion.
How do you view the intellectual property protection scenario in India?
The intellectual property protection environment in India is encouraging as seen by the passing of recent Patent Amendment Act. The focus should now be on converting the legislation and the spirit behind it into practice. Much is being done in India to increase the number of trained patent agents and to expand the patent review system to handle an expanding case load.
It is in the interest of all R&D led pharmaceutical companies, Indian and western alike, to support these activities and to foster a culture of respect for intellectual property. Investment in Indian R&D capabilities, partnering with Indian R&D led companies and use of Indian research and clinical development services will all be encouraged by this culture of respect.
What are your plans for Concordas in coming years?
Our focus is on serving and developing our client base and on building up and developing our staff. Over time, we will no doubt add new services but for the moment we are focused on excellent delivery of our existing services.