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Western Region Tops in Indian Biotech Growth

In the race for supremacy in the Indian biotech sector, the western region has claimed the number one spot during the fiscal (2005-06) // by contributing 50 percent of the total revenues of $1.5 billion (Rs.65 billion) as against 37 percent by the southern region.

Giving an account of the sunrise sector's performance, Karnataka Biotech Vision group chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told the Bangalore Bio 2006 event here Wednesday that the western region accounted for Rs.32 billion ($718 million), southern region Rs.24 billion ($526 million) and the northern region Rs.9.2 billion ($200 million), with a 15 percent year-on-year growth.

The turnover of Bangalore-based biotech firms crossed Rs.15 billion, with bio-pharma accounting for 62 percent, bio-services 18 percent and bio-industrial 12.5 percent. Biotech exports were Rs.8.5 billion ($190 million).

"India is making a fast progress in life sciences with the increase in the availability of trade skills and quality workforce. The number of returning scientists has been adding to the skill-base, thereby improving the standards of bio-manufacturing. The clinical data research is receiving more recognition. India's drug development path is improving by rapid strides," Shaw said.

In terms of investment, the biotech sector attracted Rs.16.5 billion in the last fiscal (FY 2006) as against Rs.12.2 billion in FY 2005, marking an increase of 36 percent.

About 320 firms were registered in India during the fiscal year under review. Of them 175 companies were set up in Karnataka, including 158 in Bangalore.

The biotech sector will build new business models based on niche markets and steer away from blockbuster models. Our role will be key to affordable drug development and bio-partnering will proliferate between US/European and Indian firms.

"Venture capital will influence an India-China strategy for investor companies; US/Europe will continue to le ad the way in discovery research. Asia will provide leading hubs for clinical development and stem cell therapies. Diagnostics will drive personalized medicine," Shaw pointed out.

Inaugurating the three-day, sixth edition of the conference-cum-exhibition, Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal urged the biotech entrepreneurs to innovate and invest in developing drugs to cure serious diseases like malaria, HIV and AIDS, which affect the poor nations.

"While the drugs developed by the US deals with a different set of diseases, it does not give priority to the diseases afflicting the poor and poor nations.

"Since India is placed uniquely and is sitting on a gold mine of cost advantage and human resource pool, we can also be a natural ally for developed nations in drug discovery," Sibal told about 1,000 delegates participating in the mega event.

The US spends about $2 billion on single drug development, while the same drug can be developed in India for about $500 million.

Calling for public-private partnership, Sibal said the private sector should concentrate on developing new molecules for which the central government would extend all support.

Delivering the presidential address, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said that to maintain leadership in the biotech sector, the state government had announced two vital initiatives - setting up of venture capital funds for IT and BT sectors and a biotech park in Bangalore.

"The government will be proactive and encourage global firms to invest and reap benefits. The biotech sector is growing by 40-50 percent annually and to sustain this growth, we need to focus on creation of infrastructure for the sunrise industry," Kumaraswamy said.

(Source: IANS)

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