India's emerging biotechnology sector crossed the $2 billion mark in fiscal 2007, registering 30 per cent growth over the previous fiscal (FY 2006) at $1.45 billion.
The bio-pharma segment led the growth, accounting for $1.4 billion, or 65 per cent of the total revenue, with 20 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth, Karnataka vision group for biotechnology chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said on Thursday at the inaugural session of the three-day Bangalore Bio 2007.
Similarly, bio-services and bio-agritech accounted for about $500 million, contributing Rs 10 billion ($250 million) and Rs 11 billion respectively. Bio-industrial and bio-informatics generated Rs 4 billion and Rs 1.3 billion respectively.
Total exports were Rs 10 billion.
"With healthy and consistent growth rate, the emergent biotech sector is on track to achieve the $5-billion target set for 2010. The agri-biotech segment witnessed 50 per cent YoY growth, the highest globally with the largest acreage of nine million.
"The sector also witnessed 37 per cent increase in investment of Rs 22.7 billion in the last fiscal, as against Rs 16.5 billion in FY 2006. As the biotech capital of India, Bangalore attracted the lion's share of investments Rs 10 billion," Shaw said.
Delivering the inaugural address, Shaw said that of the 340 biotech firms in the country, 183 were in Karnataka, with 137 in Bangalore alone.
Of the 12 new firms registered in FY 2007, nine are in Karnataka and six in Bangalore.
To address the widening demand-supply gap in human capital, the Karnataka government is partnering Deakin University in Australia to start postgraduate and doctoral programmes for high-end scholars and biotech scientists, Shaw told about 800 delegates participating in the conference-cum-trade show.
According to a study by the industry body ABLE (association of biotechnology-led entrepreneurs) and BioSpectrum, India's cost and skill base supports affordable drug development. The scientific headcount has doubled to about 16,000 from the previous fiscal.
"India is an emerging preferred hub for contract research organisations and contract manufacturing organizations. The transnational partnership models of global firms are suitable to Indian firms.
"Discovery research is leading to new molecules in place of generics. Pre-clinical development and presence of large animal facilities is set to attract investments in bio-pharma and bio-agritech segments. The challenges before the sector are about securing private and public funding despite risk aversion among the VCs (venture capital funds).
"Though the sector is becoming popular with trained and skilled human resource, the gap in drug discovery and clinical development is seeing a reverse brain drain, with hordes of Indian scientists coming back," Shaw, also chairperson of Biocon India Ltd, pointed out.
She, however, told union Finance Minister P Chidmabaram, who inaugurated the trade event, about the need to improve the regulatory infrastructure, bio-manufacturing standards, clinical development capabilities and research and development collaborations with US/EU firms as well as acceptance of Indian clinical data by the USFDA and EMEA of Europe.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Australian state of Victoria Governor David de Kretser, British High Commissioner Michael Arthur and heads of 15 overseas delegations also attended in the inaugural event.