—Stefan Borgas, CEO, Lonza,
Switzerland-based life sciences-driven custom
manufacturer of active ingredients, intermediates, active
pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and biopharmaceuticals is
strengthening its biosciences base in India, with the construction of
its first ever biosciences hub in the country. In an exclusive
interview with BioSpectrum, Stefan Borgas, CEO, Lonza, Switzerland,
shares more insights into Lonza’s business strategy for India and the
What are the key
growth areas for Lonza?
Lonza has three focus areas as part of its core business strategy. Our
prime focus is on life sciences manufacturing and R&D; secondly, we
do this with the help of high-end chemical and biological technologies;
and finally, we execute this with technology excellence. Lonza promotes
each of these growth drivers with specialized partnerships. In terms of
technology development (R&D), we are looking at emerging regions,
where the life sciences market is flourishing. India is, of course, one
of the major countries in our focus.
Lonza has been
focusing on extending its collaborations with global companies on
emerging sectors. To what extent will it help Lonza’s growth?
Our acquisition of Vivante, a US-based custom manufacturing
organization, dedicated to producing good manufacturing practice (GMP)
viral-based therapeutics, is mainly for technology, to equip Lonza to
get closer to the viral vaccine and vector manufacturing. With this
acquisition, Lonza can offer the production of viral vaccines. This is
very complimentary or significant to our vaccine and technology
portfolios. Vivante’s acquisition will also influence cell therapy,
where the above-mentioned technologies are needed. Collaboration with
GSK, a global pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer
healthcare company, is mainly for strengthening the customer supply
chain. And the strategic partnership with Teva Pharmaceutical, an
Israel-based generic pharmaceutical company, provides us the business
opportunity to develop selective biosimilars.
What are the major
countries of focus for Lonza in the APAC region?
In APAC, we are concentrating on China, India and Singapore. We have a
CRAMS unit is Singapore; and a significant presence in China besides a
reasonable presence in India. In China, we have developed our nutrition
business; and in the recent years, also developed our API manufacturing
platform; in the last two years, we have also started the hygiene
We just started to extend our presence in India. We are concentrating
on biology research and markets in biopharmaceuticals and hygiene.
India is altogether a different platform for us. In India, we are
investing more in R&D in biology. We are seeking more joint
ventures, partnerships and collaborations from India. We are very
dynamic in India.
What are the major
initiatives taken by Lonza to drive growth in biosciences sector?
Growth in biosciences comes mainly due to two factors: the research
environment in life sciences market is growing rapidly, that is why we
participate in this market; and second growth driver is the technology,
a lot more discoveries are happening; so a lot of new products will hit
the market, that in turn, steers growth. In Asia, our operations in
biosciences are still very small; but we are focusing on high-end
technologies that are gaining significance in Asia.
In a major initiative, we are constructing our biosciences hub for Asia
in Hyderabad. The hub will function as a significant research and
production center. The center will be ready by 2012. We have already
established labs in the region. We will complete hiring 120 scientists
by 2012, for this high-tech facility.
How will the new
biosciences hub influence the growth of Lonza?
It will be a niche research hub. We have initiated a number of
partnerships for developing and manufacturing products, and exclusive
technology transfer. The hub will help us to develop high-tech tools
and products for the Indian market. Rather than being a local lab
center, it will play an influential role in Lonza’s bioscience research
with a wider global focus. This hub will be the first-of-its-kind with
novel technology platforms. Some of the initiatives taken will pioneer
the global biosciences market as well.
How is the APAC
region faring in biosciences sector?
It is very much dependent on the countries. I believe that, India is
focusing a lot on the volume game, by providing large quantities of
relatively simple pharmaceuticals to its local market, and also to
other markets around the world. Apart from this, China gives emphasis
to innovation. The peak technology is driven more by Japan; and
Singapore also plays a vital role. In the 150-year history of peak
innovation, today, Asia along with the US, is at the leading position.
How is Lonza's growth
in custom manufacturing and life sciences?
In custom manufacturing, the growth is just over 10 percent. The
current portfolio of the company is small, yet we expect
over-proportionate growth, through collaborations and partnerships in
the area of biosciences.
What is Lonza looking
at in the next five years in terms of revenue growth and expansion?
Now, Lonza is capable of churning out
(CHF 360-CHF 380 million) profit before tax. In the next three
years, we can add between
(CHF 170-CHF 260 million) from the global market, with the
we have already started.
This is really a competitive growth. We will also look at other
countries in the bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) club.
“India is a major country of focus for
—Dr Harry S Rathore,
managing director & country head,
Lonza India, Mumbai
What prompted Lonza
to develop the biosciences hub in India?
We found R&D activities are exponentially increasing in India. We
want to be a part of this success story. As India has scientific talent
pool and Lonza has established its presence in the Western markets; we
wanted to bring our experience and expertise to Indian market. This
made us to
select India as our biosciences hub.
How much investment
is allotted for establishing this hub?
Investments will be made in phases. The first phase investment will be
some where around (not including the land)
crore ($10-$15 million). That is just for phase I, and our blueprint is
much longer. At this time, I cannot even guess the investments of phase
II and phase III.
How is the business
scenario in India and how is it helping Lonza?
India is one of the major countries of our focus. We are concentrating
on our areas of competence. A lot of research activities are going on
and we are providing the tools for life sciences research in India.
We have sales and commercial office in Mumbai. We have biology or cell
biology R&D activities in Bangalore and we are building our
knowledge center at Genome Valley in Hyderabad. The knowledge center
will function as a major global R&D think tank for Lonza’s