Group MD, Veeda Clinical Research
Having made a spree of global
acquisitions in the past five years, Ahmedabad-based, Veeda Clinical
Research will now look at tapping the US market
When Mr Apurva Shah and Mr Binoy Gardi co-founded Veeda Clinical
Research in 2005, they had a focused strategy in mind – to establish a
global presence instead of being India-centric. In addition to this, Mr
Shah and Mr Gardi decided to specialize only in phase I early clinical
development. Since then the founders have stuck to their guns. In a
span of five years, it has been a journey of quick acquisitions of
phase I CRO units across the globe for Veeda Clinical Research.
The Global Call
With stupendous growth of 70 percent driven by the strategy,
Veeda is known in industry circles as an ‘acquisitive company’.
Today, it has a direct presence in the US, Europe, India and Malaysia.
Within a span of five years, Veeda made four CRO acquisitions in
Europe, has set up pharmacology units in India and the UK (Plymouth)
and a biometrics team in Brussels, Belgium.
In January 2007, it completed the acquisition of DICE, a
Brussels-based CRO unit. Subsequently, it forged a deal in May 2007,
with Shanghai-based Novamed. In the same month it completed its
acquisition of a phase I unit at Gorlitz, Germany, thus adding to
its existing European units in the UK and Belgium. The same year, it
also announced plans for another four acquisitions in four
months, in addition to investing another
100 crore in expansion of
facilities and acquisitions. Recalls Mr Apurva Shah, group managing
director, Veeda Clinical Research, “We made our first acquisition of a
top end phase specialist unit in the UK in June 2005, making us the
first Indian CRO to go out and make an acquisition. We wanted to be a
specialized high quality CRO instead of a general “can do everything”
kind of Indian CRO.”
From a company which had five people on board, the present
manpower strength has gone up to over 400 people across the globe. In
terms of infrastructure set-up, the company has spread its wings far
and wide. “We have 162 beds at Ahmedabad; six beds at a specialty
hospital in Nadiad, India; 61 at Plymouth, UK and 40 beds at Malaysia.
We have a staff of 30 people in the US for oncology studies and are
about to purchase a Phase 1 unit at the US soon. We also have
biometrics unit at Mumbai and Belgium,” adds Mr Shah.
This apart, Veeda’s subsidiary unit, Veeda Oncology has been
maintaining a good track record. Established in 2008, Veeda Oncology
provides phase I-IV studies in the field of oncology to pharma
and biotech companies. In the same year, it announced that it had
completed the acquisition of Biologie et Industrie (B&I), an
oncology CRO founded in 1984, based in Paris, France. The division has
operations in India, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the US. In
2010, it was awarded new clinical research programs worth over $8.4
On the whole, the company has made consolidated investments of
crore till date.
The Game Plan Forward
The acquisition strategy has not been a cakewalk for the company. The
challenges have been humungous in terms of finding the right partner
who could be a strategic fit for Veeda. “To find the right organization
and people, closely matching the value system of Veeda is very
challenging. As this is a people-orientated business, distance plays a
critical factor and a lot of time is required in each geographic
location for integration.”
Having consolidated its position in India, South East Asia and Europe,
Veeda is now looking at the US market which it has not yet tapped. “We
believe that the future of pharma lies in the East but the US economy
will also bounce back soon, and thus a presence in the US is very much
required. The advantage of being close to the client is to understand
the business and the cultural needs of each region. China is a crucial
market for the future and we plan to be there in 24 months,”
concludes Mr Shah.