, founder and Dr Krathish Bopanna,
president, Semler Research Centre
Semler Research Center (SRC), founded in 2006, offers a full
range of contract research and developmental services, enabling global
life science companies to significantly enhance their R&D success,
both from a cost standpoint as well as shorter time lines. SRC is part
of US-based Semler group of companies, and has state-of-the art
research and clinical centers in Bangalore and Salem. SRC's solutions
cover formulation development, preclinical, clinical trials,
bio-analytical services, good manufacturing practice (GMP) and quality
assurance (QA) consulting. The company has intensified its focus on
clinical monitoring services for phase II to phase IV studies,
biostatistics, safety management, medical writing, regulatory affairs,
dossier preparation and submission to all regulatory agencies across
The SRC has set up a new center for drug evaluation and pharmacology
research in Bangalore. The company currently has a formulation
development center in Bangalore, and a 48-bed clinical research unit in
Salem, Ronald Semler, founder, chairman and director of Semler Research
Centre; and Dr Krathish Bopanna, executive director & president,
SRC, share their company's growth plans with BioSpectrum
. Excerpts of
What is Semler
group's interest in India?
Ronald Semler (RS):
company Semler Group, entered pharmaceutical services in India because
of the thriving generic industry, emerging new drug development
capabilities; and the impressive IT talent pool, available for data
Besides, India boasts of the highest number of FDA plants outside the
US. India is also recognized as a hub for CRAMS and clinical trials,
with dependable quality standards. Bangalore, the most sought after
city worldwide, is home to highly skilled people in life
sciences/pharmacy; and has easy accessibility, global exposure; giving
us reasons to believe in fostering our growth plans here. In this
industry, SRC has seen a sharp growth, due to our in-house expertise
and timely deliveries.
What is the
investment in the new facility?
We have invested about
crore ($10 million) towards setting up facilities in the last three
years. We are looking at doubling our investment in the next three
years. With this new investment, we will see an increase in our
headcount to 500, from the existing 134, in the next two years.
What are the driving
factors for your expansion?
Dr Krathish Bopanna (KB):
expansion will enable SRC to complete the loop in the drug development
cycle, by providing easy access to state-of-the-art facilities, for
early stage research in India. We look forward to added expansion, that
will contribute towards further evolution of the Indian contract
research and development industry. As a company, we also envisage
enormous potential in biometric space, where we hope to delve further,
through inorganic growth strategies.
How does SRC want to
make a distinct presence?
The team at SRC, which has
a combined experience of more than 250 years in the pharma industry,
consistently and efficiently moves compounds through the R&D stages
to market. In addition, we have a team of highly qualified scientific,
operations and administrative staff both in India and in the
We have been successful in
putting together a team headed by Krathish. Our company covers a whole
spectrum of services, starting with formulation development to
bioavailability/bioequivalence (BA/BE) to clinical, and even consulting
services. The goal is to be a one-stop solution provider to
pharmaceutical companies. We have big plans of expanding into newer
areas in the coming years.
Which are these
'newer areas' you plan to expand into?
We are thinking of
expanding into biomatrix, pharmacovigilance, data management services
that support clinical development and related activities. In
formulations space, we are looking at some high-end, technologically
niche product development.
How difficult is it
for Semler to manage a wide variety of services and diverse groups?
There are two areas in
business the R space and the D space. The R space is a complicated
space that involves innovation and continuous investment. We are at the
D space, looking at extending the life cycle chain management of
current drugs, or looking at a fresh way of giving exclusivity to a
Our business model involves very low risk and huge potential. We all
know that a lot of drugs are going off-patent, in the next few years.
As innovator companies, we are able to give a solution to extend their
product's life cycle.
What we follow is a very unique hybrid model, and we want to be
recognized as a clinical development organization (CDO) - a mix of
CRAMS and clinical trials. Most of our competitors either do clinical
studies or BA/BE or formulations. At Semler, we have integrated them.
We see a number of MNCs coming to India, and acquiring CROs, or small
generic companies, to complete their setup. We mimic that model at
Semler, for future growth.
Could you give us a
breakup of your revenue contribution from different businesses?
In just over three years,
we have 23 customers. About 68 percent of them are global customers.
Clinical development makes the smallest contribution of two-three
percent, since it is a new business. About 20 per cent comes from
formulation business, 38 percent from GMP consulting; and BA/BE
contributes to about 40 percent.
Going forward, we see good growth in our formulation and clinical
development businesses, in terms of profitability. GMP consulting will
be the precursor for other activities.
What are your growth
Yes, we want to grow our
company both organically and inorganically. We are looking at
acquisitions, which will be in biomatrix and clinical development areas.
We have been growing at
25-30 percent year-on-year, organically. We are looking at taking it to
100 percent, the inorganic way. So, with a mix of organic and inorganic
growth, we are targeting growth of 100 percent in the next three years.