—Mark Smedley, head-Asia Pacific, Life Technologies, US
Indian talent is all
over the world but India needs to do much to attract them back. The
talent pool here needs global exposure
US-based Life Technologies is in a definitive agreement to acquire
certain assets of Gurgaon-based LabIndia, a long-time distributor
of its products on November 1, 2010. The transaction will enable the
company to offer a more complete and complementary line of products
directly to its customers. The acquisition is expected to close during
the last quarter of 2010. However, Life Technologies does not expect
this transaction to have material impact on its finances in fiscal
Life Technologies provides customers with several cutting-edge
instruments and reagents used in biological research, primarily under
the Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen brand names. Since 1994, LabIndia
has been a distributor of the company's Applied Biosystems products,
including the SOLiDTM Sequencing system and Ambion RNA reagents. This
transaction creates a full-service business; allowing the company to
provide its Applied Biosystems products directly to customers along its
Invitrogen portfolio, which includes GIBCO cell culture products,
Lipofectamine transfection reagents, and a variety of benchtop
In an exclusive interview with BioSpectrum, Mark Smedley, head (Asia
Pacific), Life Technologies, shares insights on various aspects of the
business scenario, acquisition of LabIndia assets and the overall
biotechnology scenario in the country.
Q What is the primary purpose in acquiring LabIndia?
Our primary goal in acquiring LabIndia is to meet the increased demand
from our customers, and to develop a more direct connection with them;
serve their needs better with superior products, services and customer
support. LabIndia has been a strong partner and a great steward of
Applied Biosystems brand for the past 20 years. Also, the research
platforms here, offer opportunities not only for instruments but also
So long, we have been functioning as two separate organizations in
India with LabIndia as our trusted partner. This acquisition has given
us the chance to offer a single conversation with customers. Our
purpose has been to move from just selling instruments to offering
solutions. In the last two-and-half-years, to build Life Technologies,
we have been synergizing a lot of things between Invitrogen and Applied
Biosciences, to integrate these two organizations with a focus on
building a strong base for Life Technologies. Our partnership with
LabIndia has been a remarkable one; but now the focus is on
establishing ourselves not only as a selling and marketing
organization, but consolidation of the supply chain and manufacturing
business as well in India. Even though Invitrogen already has a base in
India; and though we had a partnership with LabIndia, we could
not move from offering components toward solutions, without
having our own base. So acquisition gives us that opportunity to
establish ourselves even more strongly in India, which would ultimately
benefit Indian researchers.
Q How will this acquisition leverage your business in
With this acquisition, nearly 100 professionals from LabIndia will join
Life Technologies, creating a 200-person strong organization with
operations throughout India. We will be retaining all these employees
under a long standing agreement with LabIndia. We plan to add another
new batch of 40 employees in the future; and India will be a service
base for other purposes as well.
We will integrate various teams and increase their interaction and
sharing of intelligence. The sales team can share the intelligence with
the reagent team. The primary focus will be on the sales of our own
reagents to our instruments, secondary will be offering reagents to
other instruments as well.
Under the new organization, customers will have better access to a
robust line of products that will provide end-to-end solutions in areas
such as research, diagnostics and forensics, as well as greater sales,
customer and technical service support.
Q What has been your revenue from India, and what are
your future expectations?
A significant amount of our investment is spent for training and
providing facilities and best infrastructure for our employees.
Also, Asia excluding Japan, contributes about 10 percent of our
revenue. It is the highest growth region, with India and China moving
on the growth path. Our revenue was less than five percent about
two-three years ago, but over these years, we have registered
In Asia Pacific, India, China, South Korea and Australia are the major
ones, but of these India has the fastest growth. We have used the
market growth, which is nearly 20 percent; and to grow above that, is
our major aim.
Q What potential does the Indian market hold for you?
The Indian market holds enormous potential. There are a lot of
significant growth areas. India is critical for us. Not just as a
service partner but also core organic Indian market is one of the major
drivers for future growth. China and India have the highest growth
The research in molecular medicine is one of the core areas that we are
looking at, as a potential area. Our good position in generics,
sequencing and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR)
is in tune with the demands that arise in personalized medicine
research areas. Besides that, there is a lot of outsourcing from the US
to India. The US and European customers are outsourcing work to India;
and therefore, we need to support contract research organizations
(CROs) in India. The entire bio-production market in India offers good
opportunities, with immense focus on quality.
Q How do you compare Indian and Chinese markets?
China and India need different strategies, but we have the same
expectations from both markets. Both the governments are keen on
funding research. Therefore, we see both markets as emerging ones, with
tremendous opportunities for growth.
On the competition from Chinese products in the market, we find them
quite low-end. The quality of the product matters a lot, especially in
research of diseases; and so our quality products are far ahead in the
race; and match the expectations of the researchers.
Q What is your next area of attention including a new
From a footprint perspective, we will pick up five new satellite
offices, and relatively grow along those regions as well. The next 18
months will be spent mostly in synergizing the activities of the two
organizations — Invitrogen and Applied Biosystem — into one
strong business, focusing on providing end-to-end solutions.
We are approaching the Indian government for providing services in
testing food and environment. Besides that, molecular biology
diagnostics, infectious diseases, oncology will also be areas where we
would like to cooperate with the Indian government, in providing our
best possible services.
We will also focus on developing region-specific facilities in the
immediate future. We will be concentrating on the next generation
sequencing capabilities, digital RT PCR, and continue to innovate in
other areas as well. This year, a new flow cytometer was launched.
Q What is your take on the prevailing biotechnology
scenario in India?
Some things that drive growth in India are research areas. Some of the
emerging trends like gene therapy, stem cells, pharmacogenomics,
personalized medicine, are also actively considered by the research
community in India.
The interesting research in synthetic biology, recombinant DNA,
sequencing will drive the Indian and overseas market. Instruments and
PCR markets will continue to grow. Bio-production and molecular biology
will similarly keep offering new opportunities. The stem cell therapies
breakthrough would be a priority. Bringing down the cost will boost the
vast healthcare industry in India.
is your opinion on the availability of talent pool in India?
India has abundance of talent and this has to be utilized optimally.
Life Technologies has been using this talent to a great extent. In the
broader sense, at Life Tech we have so many leaders who are Indians.
The leaders in Cell Analysis business, Molecular Biology business,
R&D are all Indians. Indian talent is all over the world but India
needs to do much to attract them back. The talent pool here needs
in New Delhi