Biotech's Next Wave
The industry has seen the entry of a lot of biotech companies since the launch of BioSpectrum in 2003. That was a time when the sector was engulfed in a lot of uncertainties-on the policy front, funding, resources, the size of the industry and even the direction in which the industry was heading. BioSpectrum was launched to fill the information gap that existed in this sector. It mapped the size of the industry, disseminated information about big and small companies, and provided the platform to debate policy issues, among several other things.
The sector was small-Rs 2,345 crore in 2002-03. Yet, there were a lot of companies that were set up as entrepreneurial endeavors. Several companies spread across all areas of biotech-BioPharma, BioAgri, BioIndustrial, Bioinformatics, and BioServices were started in early 2000. There were close to 50 companies that came up during that period. Apticraft Systems, Avesthagen, Bigtec, Bioserve Biotechnologies, Celgen Biologicals, Cytogenomics, Frontier Life Sciences, GangaGen, Genomik Design, Genotypic Technology, Helix Genomics, High Tech Agri Services, Intas, Jalaja Technologies, LabVantage, Lotus Labs, Magene Life Sciences, Metahelix Life Sciences, Monad Nanotech, Nano Biotech, Ocimum Biosolutions, Reliance Life Sciences, Shreya Life Sciences, Strand Life Sciences, Unique Biotech, and Varda Biotech are some of the enterprises that were set up between 1998 and 2003. In fact, these enterprises could be termed as the first wave of new generation enterprises post the economic liberalization.
The entrepreneurial spirit seems to mushroom unabated, despite funding constraints. While the enterprises set up during 1998-2003 are scaling up to the next phase of growth and expansion, a new set of enterprises is cropping up. Several companies have been set up during the last three years. We term this as the Next Wave. In the ensuing pages, BioSpectrum takes a look at some of the biotech start-ups that it has not featured earlier. While we have featured eight companies in this issue-Biovel, Polyclone, SilicoCyte, KanHealthcare, RFCL, PREMAS Biotech, Anamol, and KARD Scientific, the next issue will feature a few more companies-Ace Biomed, Advinus Therapeutics, BioZeen, Boston Biologicals, Life Care Innovations, RxMD, DGK Bio, and VLife Sciences, among others. What is interesting in this wave of biotechs is that top executives of several companies have come forward to realize their entrepreneurial dreams, starting new ventures, leaving their posh positions. Take for example Biovel. It was started by a group of people with marketing background. KanHealthcare was started by Vinod Wahi, ex-chief of Wipro BioMed; DA Prasanna, who was with Wipro, leads ManipalAcunova Life; KARD Scientific India is the initiative of Gopal Krishnan, a chartered accountant; BioZeen is the brain child of Dr Anil Paul Kariath, who was the managing director of Sartorius India.
The first breed of entrepreneurs were people mostly from the scientific field like Dr KK Narayanan of Metahelix, Prof. Vijay Chandru of Strand Life Sciences, Dr Villoo Morawala-Patell of Avesthagen, Anuradha Acharya of Ocimum, Dr BVLS Prasad of Helix Genomics, Dr Raja Mugasimangalam of Genotypic.
Undoubtedly, the Indian biotech is in for exciting times ahead.
Namratha Jagtap in Bangalore with Rolly Dureha in New Delhi and Narayan Kulkarni in Mumbai.
Biovel, Venturing Big
Biovel Life Sciences, Bangalore
P Sudhakera Naidu, CMD
From a medical representative of Himalaya Drug Company to becoming a vice-president in the same company, P Sudhakera Naidu has come a long way. He has been instrumental in the successful launches of the herbal healthcare major's several products and their subsequent record sales. Incidentally, Naidu was the first homegrown person to occupy a top position in the company. He has also had a stint at Bharat Biotech as the head of the marketing division. Currently he is the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Biovel Life Sciences, which was founded in 2003 by a group of technocrats and professionals with decades of experience in the pharma/biotech industry.
Biovel Life Sciences is a fully integrated biotechnology enterprise, focused on manufacturing and marketing of biogenerics, biopharmaceutical products, with initiatives in drug discovery, development and bioprocess. The company has expertise in vaccine manufacturing and is presently working on polysaccharide vaccines. It is actively pursuing development of molecules for the treatment of cardiac ailments. Biovel will be launching products in the oncology segment soon and the products in the pipeline include EPO and Asparaginase. The company has also perfected technologies in the nutraceuticals segment and is ready to launch Saccharomyces boulardii and SAMe in bulk and formulations. Biovel is tying up with international collaborators for the development and launch of products in the cosmetics segment and the focus is on products for healing and anti ageing. The company is also contemplating co-marketing alliances and is open to collaborations, mergers and joint ventures.
Dr Lakhsmana Das Surapu, B Pratap Reddy, Venkat Ganupur, M Chakravarthy and Nanda Kishore Lekkelapudi and P Sudhakera Naidu are on the Board of Directors. Dr Durga Prasad is the operations head and Dr S Kumar heads the R&D division while RLK Agnihotri is the business head.
How did Biovel come about?
The entrepreneurial zeal of starting something on my own had always been there and Biovel is the result of this long-cherished dream. My partners (directors of the company) happen to be close acquaintances and they pumped in a lot of money in this venture, reposing complete trust in me. The company has done investment close to Rs 30 crore of which Rs 5 crore is in R&D and by the end of this year, we would have invested about Rs 45 crore in phase I of our manufacturing plant. Plans have already been drawn for phase II, which will commence in mid 2007 and this will see an investment of about Rs 70 crore.
What is the USP of your company?
We believe in providing affordable and quality healthcare using biotechnology and the philosophy behind this is that the healthcare needs of the Indian population are not adequately met. Our company has developed and refined manufacture process of life saving drugs.
Biovel's core strength lies in marketing and perhaps Biovel is the only knowledge-based company in biotechnology started by a group of marketing professionals. We also attach great importance to our employees and they are definitely our biggest asset. We strongly believe in team work and we are looking at coming out with an innovative blockbuster brand. And that's the only way we can propel ourselves into the next generation.
Can you elaborate on your manufacturing activities?
We are into biogenerics. We are also working on anti-coagulants. The next step will be entering into the area of recombinant molecules. We are also thinking of technology transfer and right now we are negotiating with two Chinese and two US companies in this direction. We have three production lines - one pilot plant with a 22-liter fermenter and two lines with 100 litre and 300 litre fermenters. We also have two independent filling lines with additional pre-filled syringe lines. We are also in talks with a few companies for contract manufacturing.
In the second phase, we will target some high-tech molecules like peptides, monoclonal antibodies and new expression systems and we very recently signed a CDA (confidential disclosure agreement) with a top $400-billion US company in this regard. Our foray into Novel Drug Delivery Systems (NDDS) holds great promise.
What are your other plans?
We plan to establish several co-marketing alliances. Today there are many companies having strong presence in the market with a range of products in their basket but with voids in it. We will fill in this vacuum with our products and with this we intend to capture a greater market share in the various segments. We have wide contacts in Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Far East countries and we are in the process of establishing marketing and distribution channels in these countries.
Who are your role models?
I greatly draw inspiration from our President APJ Abdul Kalam and Infosys chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy. Like them, I believe in dreaming big because only when you dream, you can think of realizing it!
Polyclone, Services Focus
Polyclone BioServices, Bangalore
Naveen Kulkarni, CEO
Naveen Kulkarni is a life science professional with an experience of over 10 years in the drug discovery industry and has successfully combined research experience in molecular biology and managerial skills. Within a span of seven years, he has risen from being a bench worker to being the head of a strategic business unit of a life science solutions organization. He has conceptualized and helped in developing novel solutions to accelerate drug discovery processes and has successfully directed teams consisting of experts from different domains ranging from chemistry through proteomics and systems biology. Currently Naveen Kulkarni is leading Polyclone Bioservices as CEO for drug discovery alliances, genomics and proteomics services, virtual screening and research information systems.
Polyclone BioServices provides innovative R&D services like microarray spotting, hybridization, experimental design and target discovery by applying a combination of technologies like RNAi, QPCR and recombinant DNA. It began with Insilico services and now it has partnered with a world class group to provide virtual screening services for drug discovery. Its business model is to initially focus on providing target discovery services as well as drug discovery services based on its platform technologies and move up the value chain by expanding into specific disease areas.
Polyclone has a few firsts to its credit. It is the first Indian company to offer microarray spotting in India and the first biotech company to be incubated out of a university lab. It is also the first cancer genomics company in India to study splice variants in different types of cancer.
How did Polyclone Bioservices come into existence?
There has been a tremendous demand for R&D since the explosion of data from genomics like Human Genome Sequencing and several other complete genome sequences have been made available. This in turn has led to high throughput target discovery activities. Pharma companies are continuously seeking to partner with smaller, niche biotech players with service capabilities based on platform technologies to discover newer targets. This being the global scenario, not many companies were based out of India considering the potential for innovation was very high owing to a large gene pool and a vast patient population. We decided to capitalize on that a couple of years ago and in consultation with many global pharma and biotech majors we decided to kickstart Polyclone a year ago. Typically, India is seen as a major outsourcing hub, be it clinical research or IT services, only a few handful companies like the big pharmas have realized the potential not just for pharma sales but also for discovery and their investment (AstraZeneca committed to invest about $10 million for their R&D in Bangalore). We decided to take it further and decided to set up an R&D services company in India.
What is the kind of funding that has gone into your company?
Considering the typical investment needed to start a modest molecular biology lab (about $2 million) we have adopted a phased investment strategy and have begun with a minute fraction of the total investment (Rs 2 crore) which is about Rs 50 lakh, thanks to the incubation facility provided by the UAS, Dharwad. This has reduced our initial overhead to a great extent and has enabled us to work towards developing the business without much financial burden. In the next two years, we hope to invest close to about Rs 2 crore towards developing the state-of-the-art facility on our own.
What are the opportunities you intend to leverage?
As I mentioned earlier, opportunities present themselves in different forms. In our case, the availability of vast genome pool, patient data and varied demographic polymorphisms are literally unexplored in India. We see that as an opportunity. Pharma companies have always had interest in India and IT has only added more to that interest; we need to leverage that. The fact that global spending on R&D by pharma companies has not yielded the expected returns is again an advantage as they are now serious about "outside" opportunities by way of in licensing, partnered research programs and joint discovery.
Any tie-ups in the recent past?
Very recently Polyclone forged a strategic alliance with SUNY (State University of New York), Albany. This alliance is the first of its kind where the SUNY Foundation with its CFG (Center for Functional Genomics) and Cancer Research Centre will collaborate with Polyclone to jointly conduct collaborative research, offer its core facilities for companies and academics by providing high end wet lab facility for research.
We are in the process of tying up with UK-based De Montfort University in Leicester. The university has a cancer research group as well as a bioinformatics group with high end computing infrastructure which will collaborate with Polyclone in cancer research. Now employees of Polyclone can also get their PhD on the job who work in these collaborative research projects and this is also the first of its kind.
SilicoCyte, Computing Success
Dr Pravin Kini & Srikanth Manchikanti
Although SilicoCyte (formerly CytoGenomics India) is a not-so-new company, it would be worthwhile to feature it among the new biotech start-ups as its primary product SilicoCyte, a leading edge microarray informatics product is currently the largest selling product in this space from India. The company aims to provide leading edge bioinformatic products for various applications including microarray, proteomics, glycomics and other related areas. In addition, it plans to provide the computational tools for clinical medicine in the areas of diagnostics and prognostics. Its vision is to have SilicoCyte solutions accepted as the gold standard in genomics and proteomics.
Dr Pravin Kini, who is the chief scientific officer of SilicoCyte, has been in active medical practice as an infertility consultant and has successfully run IVF clinics in Bangalore.
He holds business interests in clinical process outsourcing (CPO) and takes special interests in healthcare infrastructure for rural areas and public hospitals in India. Dr Kini has been running SilicoCyte as the distributor of Incyte Genomics in India and has been instrumental in selling subscriptions to Life Seq, a premier database product to pharmaceutical companies.
Srikanth Manchikanti, the CEO of SilicoCyte, has an overall experience of 19 years in the software solutions business. He spent eight years in the US providing document processing environment and imaging technologies expertise to large banks and companies such as Unisys, Federal Reserve Bank and others through Business Oriented Software Solutions, that he founded in Atlanta.
How did SilicoCyte come about?
SilicoCyte was earlier known as CytoGenomics. We initially started as a distributor to Incyte Genomics, the world's largest bioinformatics company at that point in time. That was the time when the human genome project was launched. They vacated their business and one of the products we bought from them was GEMTools which we converted into IP and licensed the software. It was the leading microarray informatics product. We took this product across the world and our primary customers were in Japan where we sold it extensively and did a sales of over $2 million.
Subsequently, the market changed and we felt that we needed to make a second product. We were still using the legacy of Incyte Genomics and there were certain limitations in the microarray space. Microarray itself had modified and we found that we could not modify this particular product any longer. We started building the strategy of going one level higher and started developing a product for scientific database management. We have come up with SeaGull which is a scientific data management and analysis system and we hope to be the world leader in scientific database management industry.
Please elaborate on your latest product SeaGull.
SeaGull is a web-interface flexible data management framework involving genes, proteins and small molecules as domain objects and includes lab objects such as work flows protocols. It also has the facility of E-Lab-Notebook and also can store data from literature sources. The data analysis is carried out by various high-end statistical analyses with ad-hoc query support.
We developed SeaGull as a platform so that it will allow for rapid application development in the scientific space and the largest example is the medical industry. Medical health record data is very complex and heterogenous and our platform allows to quickly incorporate it. Newer methods of patient diagnosis keep coming in and if one has to go back to the drawing board every time a new method evolved, one could end up spending millions of dollars in trying to keep up pace with the growth in medical diagnostics. All bioinformatics companies face the problem of the Red Queen Effect. The Red Queen said, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." So we sort of bypassed the whole program and came up with SeaGull which eliminates the problem of the Red Queen Effect. The beta version of SeaGull has been accepted and we are in the process of making the release version of the product.
What are your future plans?
In future we want enter the hospital information segment using a similar platform in the biological space management which is known as LIMS. This platform can also be used in non-biology areas as well. And the future of computation medicine will probably come from us.
We are also knowledge consultants to the biggest IT companies in the world like IBM. We are their software service providers and also their consultants for healthcare and life sciences. We are also looking at contract manufacturing.
RFCL, New Delhi
Many in the life sciences industry would be aware of RFCL in its earlier avatar as Ranbaxy Fine Chemicals Limited, a 100 percent subsidiary of Indian pharma major, Ranbaxy Laboratories. Now, RFCL has established itself as a separate entity, since December 2005, and is owned by the ICICI Venture Capital Fund.
The company is currently run by the same core management team of 13 dynamic professionals, who have been managing it as a strategic business unit since the Ranbaxy days. RFCL comprises four business units - Rankem dealing in total scientific laboratory solutions; Ventex dealing with next generation veterinary solution for livestock, poultry and pets; Diagnova dealing with in vitro diagnostics; and Neosynth which deals with custom synthesis.
Put together all its four business segments cover a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, R&D laboratories, food processing, the veterinarians, aqua and poultry farms, in vitro diagnostic facilities in clinical labs, hospitals, and nursing homes.
In the in vitro diagnostics segment, RFCL has a presence in multiple disease profiles like hematology, infections, diabetes, routine chemistry and has a tie-up with global companies like Axis-Shield, Biokit, Adaltis, Pointe, Elytech, Monobind, Korea Greencross and Panbio. Its animal healthcare unit, Ventex, has an extensive product range covering important therapeutic areas for large animals, poultry and pets like anti-microbial agents, anti-parasitics, NSAIDs and supportive therapy products and performance promoters. It has a marketing tie-up with Alpharma and CEVA in this sector.
The product offerings from its scientific lab solutions include laboratory reagents, imported chemicals, filtration and chromatography products, certified reference standards, liquid handling and biopharmaceutical products. It has an alliance with Acros Organics, Mallinckrodt Baker, Sartorius, Accustandard, Witeg, Princeton and Kartell. RFCL has a strong work force of 380 people with diverse skills and qualifications. The company is proud of its ISO 9001:2000 manufacturing facilities, quality assurance laboratories, a wide distribution reach and efficient logistics.
Sushil Mehta, MD, RFCL shares the future plans of the company.
How was the journey from an allied business unit of Ranbaxy to a separate entity?
It was both challenging and exciting. Challenging for the team as we were dissociating from a company with the stature of Ranbaxy which had contributed immensely in the development of the team as professionals. At the same time, the thought of becoming "Core from Allied" was a tremendous sense of inspiration to each one of us at RFCL. This was further strengthened with equity fund like iVenture being our new promoters.
What is the vision of RFCL?
Our vision is to be a globally respected company in the field of life sciences and laboratory solutions by providing quality products and services and creating winning relationships. And in line with this vision, we are building an organization that encourages a value structure involving high aspirations, youth and new ideas, merit innovation, speed, openness, entrepreneurship, best practices and putting the interest of customer on the forefront.
What was idea behind adding the new division, NeoSynth, to RFCL?
NeoSynth, the fourth strategic business unit, was added to RFCL after its inception into a new company. The aim behind this was to build intrinsic value for RFCL by creating a robust chemistry-based R&D capability This would target at companies engaged in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology in the regulated markets of the US, EU and Japan. The division would offer high value, gram to kilo scale, advanced intermediates, active pharma ingradients (APIs) and contract research services.
What are the future plans of RFCL?
We have created a well-defined roadmap for the company for the next five years. Currently we are mobilizing the resources behind the people and investing heavily in RFCL. We are setting up a WHO and cGMP certified manufacturing facility at Haridwar for veterinary formulation and diagnostics. We will also be working on the novel drug delivery systems for the various veterinary products, R&D for veterinary formulations and APIs, veterinary biologicals, biotech research reagents, diagnostics, and kits. Further expansion in exports market and deeper forays in the labware and instruments, biosecurity services, women healthcare, diabetes and companion animals market are on our agenda.
In addition, we will be partnering with globally recognized companies for a wider product portfolio in our various SBUs.
From a revenue perspective, during the first seven months since inception, our market growth has been in line with our projections. In fact for the coming four years, we have set ourselves a tough target of doubling the market growth in each of our four strategic business units on a year-on-year basis.
KanHealthcare, Clinical Diagnostics Foray
KanHealthcare, New Delhi
Vinod & Anuj Wahi
KanHealthcare is the brainchild of the ex-chief of Wipro BioMed, Vinod Wahi. A healthcare company currently focused on the clinical diagnostics segment, it was incorporated on November 9, 2005. And just the day earlier, Vinod had bid adieu at Wipro BioMed. Revealing that with a smile, he hastened to add that the setting up of the company was definitely not a knee-jerk reaction but something that he had been contemplating, planning and working upon since two years. Assisting Wahi is his son Anuj, who has imbibed business management knowledge from one of the best business schools in the US and honed it further by gaining experience in world class companies.
The company is engaged in the marketing, selling and servicing of clinical diagnostic range of products. It has a tie-up with The Binding Site, a UK-based company, which specializes in the research, development and production of immunodiagnostic kits and reagents for use in the investigation of human and veterinary diseases. The entire range of The Binding Site products are available for clinical and research markets across the country, exclusively through KanHealthcare.
Having invested in the company substantially, the combo Wahi team aims to establish their presence firmly in the trendsetting referral laboratories, hospitals and the public and private sector research institutions on the merits of their strong products and infrastructure.
Vinod Wahi, President and CEO, KanHealthcare, speaks about his plans for the company.
How did you decide to turn into an entrepreneur?
I have been associated with the clinical diagnostics arena much before it became an organized business segment. I have practically seen this area growing in front of me, right from the initial days when, only select routine laboratory investigations were performed by using conventional methodologies and advancements in diagnostics were not heard of. Lot of time was, therefore, invested in creating awareness of advancement in clinical diagnostics supported by a strong infrastructure for their optimum utilization. Having worked for about three decades in this industry, I had gathered enough learning and wanted to set out on my own.
In the meantime, my son, Anuj Wahi who is assisting me in this venture did his MBA from Gannon University at Pennsylvania and subsequently worked for about two years in the US at B.Braun - Aesculap and GE, to gather hands-on experience in this business arena. We decided that it was the right time to set out on our own by synthesizing my understanding about the Indian healthcare market and the business management skills of Anuj to develop KanHealthcare as one of the premium organizations in this domain.
In what respect is KanHealthcare different from the other companies operating in this segment?
We have created an organization that is very distinct and uniquely different from the other companies operating in this space. Our concern is not only the top lines but how our customers perceive us.
We have not only set high standards for customer satisfaction but also have equally high standards for employee satisfaction.
We also place a lot of emphasis on the relationship between the Indian partner and the foreign principals. There has to be mutual respect, transparency and excellent understanding between the two partners which are critical ingredients for achieving success in the long run. We share a very strong bond with The Binding Site, our foreign partners, and in a short span of six months, high level board members of the company have visited India twice along with their export manager. This move will continue and is essential for their understanding of Indian market leading to speedy actions, ultimately, to the satisfaction of our customers.
Another distinct feature is that we do not believe in the arithmetic formula of compounding the revenue by representing large clutch of companies and products. We will lead the market and generate the volumes by focused selling, through select quality foreign principals, on exclusive basis, as a lot of time and energy is spent in satisfying a single customer.
What are your growth plans?
We are currently under investment mode. We plan to diversify our product range and add select world class companies to complete our product portfolio but the nucleus of our growth plans will continue to be our customers.
PREMAS, A Discovery Partner
PREMAS Biotech, Manesar, Haryana
Dr Rajeev Soni, President and COO
PREMAS Biotech is an unusual name for a biotechnology company. Delving a little deeper into it reveals that it is actually an acronym for "Production of REcombinant Molecules for Advancement of Science", which certainly encompasses the broad range of activities of the company.
Set up in November 2005 by a core group of talented scientific experts and experienced sales and marketing professionals, it is headed by Dr Rajeev Soni who has over 15 years of varied and in-depth experience in the biotech arena with significant exposure in recombinant protein expression, drug discovery research pertaining to cancer, infectious diseases, respiratory and inflammatory disorders. He has been instrumental in setting up the molecular biology facility at Naval Research Lab in Washington DC as well as various laboratories in the US, UK and India.
Dr Prabuddha K Kundu, heading the manufacturing activities has over eight years of experience in the field of scale up, production and protein purification.
Leading the business development is Praveen Gupta, who has over 14 years of marketing experience in life science and molecular diagnostic arena. Narahari Koushik, overseeing the finance and HR, is a chartered accountant and has over 20 years of rich and varied experience in start-up as well as mature environments. Dr Nupur Mehrotra, a medical doctor, and Kajal Arora, a research scientist, are the two other lead members of the team who are heading the molecular diagnostics and cloning and expression activities respectively at PREMAS. With the motto of "Partners in Discovery", the company aspires to be a partner of choice in providing integrated discovery solutions to the global biotechnology industry.
Who are the promoters of the company? Was it difficult to find funding for the company?
PREMAS is being promoted by a group of technocrat investors who are ex-executive management members of large global multinational organizations turned entrepreneurs. The funding resource is a UK-based investment company. Till now they have made an upfront investment of $6 million into our company.
The concept of PREMAS biotech is very novel. The company is proposing to provide not only research based drug discovery solutions but also biomanufacturing under one umbrella. Since most of the venture capitalists are primed to the IT industry model, a lack of understanding at the concept level and substantial gestation period in terms of returns made the search for investors a long one for us.
What are the various services offered at PREMAS?
We found that there was a lacuna of research-based solutions in the biotechnology arena, not only from the consumers' perspective but also from an investment company's view as well. Keeping this in mind, we not only provide wet lab solutions in the high-end drug discovery arena but technical consultancy also. Our consultancy services cover the entire gamut of drug discovery: right from research process all the way up to scale-up solutions, validation/audit services, and delivery systems.
Our wet lab offering encompasses contract research/services in the areas of: cloning/expression (including gene cloning, vector design and expression and protein production); development of molecular screening assays, screening new chemical entities; drug metabolism; and bioinformatics services like data mining, structure to function analysis of gene sequences, genomic analysis to identify candidate genes, etc.
In addition, we have developed an extremely sensitive and specific novel molecular diagnostic technology for early detection of human diseases and are in the process of filing a patent. This technology has huge potential, as the global market for molecular diagnostics in 2004 was estimated at $1.4 billion and this market is expected to grow at 15 percent per annum.
We are also acting as channel partners for Genvault and Illumina, sophisticated technology solution providers, in the drug discovery and development segment.
In the future, we will embark upon biomanufacturing of specialized proteins and enzymes. Another project in the pipeline is ART-T-Applied Research for Technology Transfer, leading to proprietary biotherapeutics in the area of cancer and other diseases. This is a very attractive segment as the current global biotherapeutic market ranges from $1-8 billion depending on the molecule.
What are the infrastructure facilities that will match the scope of activities at the company?
We have set up our facility in IMT Manesar in Haryana in an area of over 20,000 sft with dedicated laboratories in molecular biology, cell biology and mammalian cell culture facility, protein expression lab, molecular diagnostics, gene expression and genotyping and a bioinformatics lab. It will be operational from the third week of August 2006. The facility is integrated with electronic notebook and scientific database management systems (SDMS) along with fully secure and compliant IT networks.
Anamol, Original Makers
Anamol Laboratories, Pune
Mahendra J Dashora, MD
Biotechnology has grown far and wide during the last 15 years. But most of
these technologies are expensive and confined to research laboratories. Making
these available to the common people at affordable cost is the main focus of
Anamol Laboratories Pvt Ltd, a company which was incorporated in January 1998 in
Pune but later acquired by Mahendra J Dashora, then managing director of Accurex
Biomedical Pvt Ltd, in 2004. It has strong commitment to implement and
popularize the latest developments in the field of clinical chemistry, food
biochemistry, food toxicology and molecular diagnosis of diseases. It shifted
base from Pune to Tarapur (Boisar) to set up a state-of-the-art facility as per
Anamol uses leading edge technology to challenge the conventional performance limitations of diagnostic reagents. Anticipating the needs, product specifications such as stability, linearity, precision, specificity and packaging are progressively improved through research and innovation. Anamol has adopted a concept called India's Global Quality (IGQ) and Original Reagent Group (ORG) through which it is making available high quality clinical chemistry reagents for modern laboratories. The IGQ and ORG range of quality reagents manufactured by Anamol include stable liquid enzymes and substrates, especially designed for Hitachi and Synchron clinical chemistry analyzers.
MJ Dashora who has been in the field of healthcare since 1979 and successfully launched then modern enzymatic clinical methods with indigenous manufacturing, gave a new look to Anamol Laboratories. Anamol has prominent scientists and pathologists on its advisory board to support the team time to time. During 2005-06, it was able to generate revenues of Rs 22 lakh and it is expected to earn Rs 5 crore by the end of this financial year.
Mahendra Dashora shares his entrepreneurial experiences.
There are many players in the bioservices segment. What is it that made you venture into this field?
Yes, there are, but many of them are importing for the business. The real manufacturers are very few and we Indians need to be self reliant. My question is do we need to go abroad to be successful.
How different is your company from other companies in the field of bioservices?
First, we at Anamol feel genuinely proud of our quality and declare it in very loud words like "India's global quality". And let me clarify, we had to struggle very hard to bring our products, quality at par with multinational brands.
What are the opportunities you are looking at?
We are the "original manufacturers" which means our products are expected to meet Indian customers need more effectively and affordably. Product availability and short expiry are generally not our problems. Technologically competent and skilled human resource is available within our country.
What were the hurdles facing you while starting this venture?
There are a few hurdles relating to many areas but all of them are solvable. The biggest hurdle in our country is corruption where normal duties are not done unless extra monetary gains are given. It is surprising that such an unofficial thing is becoming very official nowadays.
Your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs...
Dreaming big is important. But equally important is to convert them into reality. Most of the projects fail only because the promoter loses confidence in himself/herself while facing hurdles. Problems are inevitable for everyone but entrepreneurs have few extra kilos of them. My findings are that the road continues even after the hurdle. Have faith in yourself and perform duties. Most of the time things fall right if our direction of movement is right.
KARD Scientific India, Built to Last
KARD Scientific India, Pune
P Gopal Krishnan, MD
KARD Scientific India is a contract research organization focusing on the pre-clinical development of new molecules. It formally commenced operations in April 2005. The research laboratory is located in Pune. It plans to set up a 21,000 sft laboratory to meet US FDA standards and will have sections in medicinal chemistry, medicinal discovery and efficacy and efficiency studies including ADME and toxicology. This is expected to be fully operational by mid-2007. KARD Scientific India is promoted by KARD Scientific Inc., a Boston, Massachusetts based company.
KARD Scientific India is the initiative of P Gopal Krishnan, a chartered accountant, who has a decade of experience in the Indian industry in business leadership positions and Dr Krishna Menon, who holds a doctorate degree from Harvard. He is an inventor on 11 patents including the one for Alimta. He has been responsible for seven FDA approved drugs, three of which are blockbusters. Gopal Krishnan was a finance controller at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Johnson & Johnson Ltd before setting up Kard Scientific India. He is looking after the day-to-day operations of Kard Scientific India in the capacity of managing director.
Gopal Krishnan shares his views on the new venture he initiated with Dr Krishna Menon.
What made you start a company in the bioservices segment where there are already many players?
I am a very restless person, and have always liked taking measured risks, creating new things, improving what exists and traversing "the road less traveled". After a fairly successful innings in multinational companies, I had dreams of starting an organization that would grow to become a "built to last" organization in the knowledge domain. It was about that time that I met Dr Krishna Menon from Boston, a well-known pharmaceutical scientist who is credited with the discoveries of blockbuster drugs like Alimta and Gemzar. That was in 2004 and Kard Scientific India was born.
There are more than 3000 medical indications, human and veterinary, for which there is no cure. We believe that there is ample opportunity for innovative scientific organizations which are focused and committed in their areas of expertise and are also prepared to move up the value chain. The dependence on bioservices will decrease proportionately as the organization moves up the value chain.
What were the hurdles you initially faced while starting this venture?
The challenges have primarily been in human resources, legal and government policy.
India has a large pool of highly qualified human resources. The challenge has been to identify the right, creative, scientifically inquisitive minds amongst them, who thrive in uncharted areas of research and fit into the organizational culture.
The legal framework needs appropriate strengthening to support the new areas of activity. Non-existence or lack of clarity in regulations has been a problem. This is a big disadvantage in the global perspective. Government policy in many areas needs a re-look to help scientific research organizations to compete with others in the rest of the world.
What are the strategies you have adopted to be different from other bioservices companies?
We offer bioservices in areas that are very specialized. Our affiliate organization in the US is focused on similar areas and operates to US FDA standards. The Indian and US affiliates operate seamlessly, enabling the sharing of best practices. Further, we are also in the process of moving up the value chain and going ahead in the discovery of new drugs.
What are the opportunities you intend to leverage?
We are planning to become a complete healthcare company with manufacturing facilities, sales and distribution of ethical prescription medicines in both human and veterinary segments. However, we would like to remain a scientific research organization at heart.
We have started manufacture and sale of veterinary products and are in line to start human pharmaceutical operations by the end of this year.
What are your tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?
All new entrepreneurs have to promote organizations as an innovative scientific research organization of world class and stay focused on a niche service, to enable them to succeed in their bioservices venture.