Biotech ecosystems: Giving a boost to India’s life sciences industry

India’s first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate HGCO19 by Gennova Biopharmaceutical Ltd

Biotech ecosystems: Giving a boost to India’s life sciences industry

India’s strengths in drug discovery and pharmaceutical R&D are seeing a second resurgence after some Indian pharma majors exited early in‐house
pharmaceutical discovery and research activities in the early part of the new century. With the development of vaccines, complex APIs and biologics, India’s life sciences industry is ready to take to the global stage. At the same time, the pandemic has helped draw attention to the need for further investments in strengthening the innovation ecosystem, especially in the field of biotechnology. This is critical if India is to gain from the growth in the biotechnology sector which is expected to reach US$150 billion by 2025 from just US$63 billion in 2019. In 2017, the Indian biotechnology industry contributed just 3% to the global industry; by 2025, this contribution is anticipated to increase by 16%. The potential, of course, is much more!

Indian pharma has recognized the potential of biotech and has now begun to tap into this rapidly expanding market. However, India-led novel drug innovations are extremely rare. Although international life sciences firms have been leading in the biotech space, instances from India are uncommon. While India accounts for just 8% of the global biopharmaceutical market as a whole, it holds a 40% share by volume of the global vaccines market.

India’s first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate HGCO19 by Gennova Biopharmaceutical Ltd

Vaccines: Paving the way for growth

The pandemic caused a relook at the dynamics of the vaccine industry. Governments with deep pockets funded and significantly reduced the risk for pharmaceutical companies in the research and development of promising vaccines. Along with rapid regulatory approvals and a greater acceptance of mRNA platforms, the industry saw a radical change. The global vaccine industry is now expected to grow from $40 billion to over $75 billion by 2025 with India’s vaccine industry having the potential to grow from $2 billion to $4 billion. However, this will require expanding investment in technology for manufacturing and the supply chain infrastructure. It is only then that India will be able to move up the value chain and increase its share by value.

Advantage – Research infrastructure

The optimal research infrastructure integrates research, education, and innovation dynamically and fluidly. Challenges encountered in life science research and development can be addressed through collaboration across research areas. Creating enabling research infrastructure is fundamental to efficient growth through creativity and innovation.

Biotech parks: Driving enterprise performance

An EY Ecosystem Survey highlights how a high-functional research ecosystem can drive business execution. These include creating greater growth opportunities; encouraging R&D by easing access to assets, talent, and ideas; and increasing capital leverage through creating value opportunities.

Pune: A rewarding location

With proximity to the city of Mumbai, availability of trained talent and first-rate infrastructure, and access to a plethora of research institutes, the city of Pune offers a supportive ecosystem to biotech and life sciences. Housing research spaces like National Chemical Laboratory, National Institute of Virology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Agharkar Research Institute to name a few, Pune is the choice for many life science entities. Aside from access to a trained talent pool of human resources from all across the country, it is also a city that many skilled professionals prefer to live in. Many incubation centres like IISER’s AIC, Bhau Institute of Innovation, Venture Centre have also been able to scale new heights based out of the location. A lower cost of living leads to savings in manpower costs and administrative overheads. The pace of the city promotes a healthy work-life balance that reduces talent attrition. Over the next few years, Pune is set to become a pharma powerhouse.

The right biotech ecosystem in the right place can accelerate innovation and transform India to a leading position in the global biotech industry. The ingredients are all available. The time is right… the time is now!