• 13 December 2007
  • News
  • By N Suresh

Vibrant Gujarat

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Vibrant Gujarat

India's leading industrialized state, Gujarat, may be a late entrant to join the biotech bandwagon. But in the last two-three years it has transitioned to be an attractive destination for biotech investments.

Driven by new enterprises and innovation in recent years, the biotech sector in Gujarat is witnessing accelerated growth in all directions. A strong base of various industries like the pharmaceutical, chemicals, and food and beverages sector provides the ideal ecosystem for Gujarat to succeed in the biotech arena.

Gujarat's potential

The biotech sector is Gujarat consists of 40 core biotech and 66 allied organizations. The biotechnology stakeholder profile of Gujarat consists of corporate (67 percent), academic institutes (20 percent), research institutes (11 percent) and NGOs (2 percent). There are two biotechnology clusters in the state-the Ahmedabad biotech cluster and Vadodara biotech cluster. These clusters have the potential to attract investments and provide employment opportunities as they have a good mix of all the stakeholders. In terms of type of biotech companies in the state, around 48 percent companies are involved in manufacturing activities, 34 percent in R&D activities and 18 percent in services. Interestingly 62 percent of the biotech companies are diversified units of established businesses like Torrent Gujarat Biotech (Torrent group), Indus Bio-therapeutics (Intas Pharmaceuticals), Synbiotics (Ambalal Sarabhai), and Bio-Arc solutions (Alembic Grop). Pure Play organizations account for 19 percent share of the total number of biotech companies--Maps Enzymes, Concord Biotech, Chiron Behrings and Span Diagnostics. Service organizations like Quintiles, Synchron, Clinisearch, Lambda therapeutics, RCC, and Simbec account for another 19 percent share.

The industry has evolved around few sub-sectors like healthcare (60 percent), bioagri (20 percent), industrial biotech (6 percent), environmental biotech (6 percent), and others (8 percent), which include contract research services suppliers, foods and nutraceuticals and marine.

Several companies figure in the list of top biotech companies and they cut across sectors. For example, Quintiles Spectral with revenues of over Rs 62.55 crore, Cadila Healthcare with revenues of Rs 55 crore and Span Diagnostics with revenues of over Rs 35.62 crore figure amongst the top biotechnology companies in the country. Maps (India) from Gujarat is also a leading bioindustrial company. Intas from Gujarat, has launched three recombinant products in last three years.

Investments

According to Akshay K Saxena, mission director, Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission (GSBTM), Department of Science & Technology, Government of Gujarat, while investments in the biotech sector in Gujarat in the last 10 years has been to the tune of Rs 300-350 crore, the annual turnover in biotechnology in Gujarat has been around Rs 500-600 crore. During 2003-07 alone, the investments were worth Rs 200 crore and was being done purely as expansion by existing players like Chiron Vaccines, RPG life sciences, Americoes, SPAN diagnostics, Concord, Cadilla Pharma, and Clinsearch.

GSBTM is encouraging new entrepreneurs to diversify into biotech and is taking steps to attract investments into Gujarat from within the state, out the state and from global players. Aumgene Biotech, Augene Biotech, Enzymes Ltd, MaXEEma Biotech, CiPPY Bio International, Italia Biotech, Shalley Biotech, SUN Agri-genetics, and DIMA Diagnostics are some of the new start-up companies that has started operations in the state. Acton Biotech was incubated in NIRMA labs and has established its unit in Pune.

The proposed investment has increased several folds during its "Vibrant Gujarat" industrial summit 2007, which was held early this year. The summit has seen investment initiatives of Rs 1,500 crore in biotechnology. These investments will be unleashed within the next three years. The summit also witnessed signing of 19 Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) between the state biotech players and the industrialists from abroad and outside Gujarat. These projects will also provide with around 8,000 new employment opportunities.

Some of the players who have expressed interest to invest in Gujarat during the Vibrant Gujarat include MJ Bio-pharma, Anhox, Oxygen Healthcare, Zytex, BDR Pharmaceuticals, MABS International, and Total Potential and land has been purchased by them. A commitment of approximately Rs 700 crore has been made by above companies, including the BT Park developer- Akruti Nirman.

This apart the various existing units are investing in biotechnology by virtue of expansion of their facilities. These include Hester Pharma, Chiron Vaccine, Concord Biotech, Intas Biopharma, and various others who have committed nearly Rs 155 crore.

Pharma giant like Zydus Cadilla have also entered the biotech sector in big way in Gujarat, with committed investment of around Rs 100 crore.

Global companies like US-based Stemcyte Corporation is also starting its operation in Ahmedabad, with committed investment of Rs 100 crore. US-based Alexandria has also committed investment which is under due diligence by company.

Hyderabad-based NUSUN has finalized its plans for Rs 40 crore investment in the state and has procured land near Ahmedabad. IKF Technologies is committing Rs 100 crore investment and is in advanced stage of land procurement.

Vaishnavi Biotech, a subsidiary of Hyderabad-based Pratistha Group, has already procured land at Bhavnagar and is procuring equipment, as part of its Rs 90-95 crore investment in Gujarat for a bio-pesticide project.

US-based AMNEAL Pharma is investing around Rs 50 crore for its preclinical facilities at Ahmedabad. The company plans to develop its own SEZ near Ahmedabad. Anil Product has made investment of nearly Rs 100 crore in its existing facilities. The Institute of Clinical research has started its operation from Ahmedabad. HIRAK Biotech is investing Rs 10 crore in developing an R&D center.

Sterling Biotech also has made an investment of nearly Rs 150 crore in its recently acquired facility at Vadodara for gelatin production, and today has the largest production center in Asia. The company has started production of satins and therapeutics.

Government initiatives

The government has taken the approach of developing the biotech sector in Gujarat in a holistic way, by creating not only a conducive environment, but also a good support structure. As part of that strategy, the Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission (GSBTM), an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat, is facilitating the growth of this industry. The governing body of GSBTM is headed by chief secretary of Gujarat and has representation of policy planners of various departments, industries and academia.

Gujarat Biotech Venture Fund (GBVF) is an initiative of GSBTM to enhance the investment in the state's biotechnology sector. Managed by Gujarat Venture Funds Ltd, GBVF is a 12-year close-ended fund with an initial corpus of Rs 50 crore. The amount would be invested in the biotechnology companies of Gujarat.

The state is developing a biotechnology park at Savli in Vadodara in three phases, in an area of 700 acres. The Park is being developed under public- private partnership. The park has two components--Innovation arcade and Industry arcade. While the industry arcade is to be developed by private developer and innovation arcade is being developed by the state government. The private partner has been selected and a portion of the park has also been given the SEZ status while the second portion of SEZ, planned by private partner is under scrutiny. The entire park is in advance stage of receiving environmental clearance, as per EPA, 2006.

The state is also gearing up for an agro-biotech park. The government land for the park has been identified and the process for its reservation and the selection of the private partner is under the way.

The process for developing a marine-biotech park in Gujarat has also been initiated. The government land for the park has been identified too.

In addition to the land availability, the state government also proposes to facilitate development of other sector specific infrastructure such as centers of excellence, incubation, accreditation, testing, and validation in the respective zones.

 

"Gujarat plans to build a world class biotech cluster"

- Narendra Modi, chief minister, Gujarat

Excerpts from an interview with the CM taken in March 2007

You have coined the term BT+BT = BT (Bharat Today + Biotechnology =Bharat Tomorrow). Considering this, what could be the contribution of Gujarat one can expect in Bharat Tomorrow?

Gujarat has been the one of biggest contributors to Bharat Tomorrow. The lead entrepreneurs in biotechnology from Gujarat, have been making their mark nationally and internationally. Gujarat has been amongst the first few to adopt the agro-biotechnology and emerge as a major cotton producer. In the coming times, the emphasis would be on producing life saving biotech drugs for which patents have already expired. Gujarat has a history of producing drugs at affordable prices and in consonance with this tradition Gujarat would take lead in this area. Gujarat, with its favorable geographic location, diverse climatic conditions, rich marine and microbial biodiversity, would like to make drugs and therapeutic products for the country and human society at affordable prices. Better yielding groundnut, value added products from castor, biotechnology based vaccine, both for human as well as animal healthcare, higher availability of dairy based products, trendsetting technologies and practices in medical and solid waste treatment, are few of the areas in which Gujarat expects to contribute to Bharat Tomorrow.

What proactive role do you envisage for biotechnology to be an early gainer in the next decade?

The state has taken definite pro-active actions on organizational, planning and implementation front. The Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission (GSBTM) takes care of the organizational part. Developments of long-term vision, biotechnology development strategy, sector specific strategic road maps, are crucial actions from the planning angle. Development of infrastructure, developing skilled human resources, supporting biotechnology research, encouraging biotech entrepreneurship and business are the main priorities from the implementation perspective. Sector specific BT Parks, agro-BT park, marine BT park, specific facilities like marine resources center, dedicated value addition training programs, both in universities and in collaboration with industries, focus on teachers' training, modern infrastructure for biotech research in universities, establishment of biotechnology venture fund, are few of the pro-active actions of the state government. In coming five years, the state government plans to allocate nearly Rs 200 crore to biotechnology.

Gujarat being one of the leading pharmaceutical bases of the country is now losing investments to other north Indian states because of their offerings to the entrepreneurs. How do you wish to address this issue?

The key parameters for industrial development and industrial investments are urban, social and industrial infrastructure. Gujarat has been providing it since long and that is why it has been in forefront of industrial development. However, the entire country and all its states offer options and choice. Gujarat, while welcoming the pro-active role of different states, stands committed to provide the facilities, which are key for sustained operations and business in the long term. Gujarat with its industrial infrastructure, power availability, labor and employment, investor-friendly business environment, would continue to attract industries.

Better infrastructure base, assured power supply, social infrastructure would continue to be the state's offering for future and prospective BT investors. And in this respect, the state's government vision of developing a mega city is one such initiative to attract investors from different parts of the world.

How does the government intend to promote research-based biotech initiatives in the state?

The state is already providing funding support to biotech research. The state has developed a dedicated action plan for promoting biotech research. It has identified sector-specific facilities, and institution-specific facilities, which would be developed alone or through collaborative funding. The state plans to make universities and educational institutes into a hub of biotech research, develop modern biotech research and incubation facilities in different universities, encourage researchers and faculties to undertake collaborative projects. Active research by existing teaching faculty is one of the priorities. The state plans to take stock of the present research scenario and would work out the priorities.

N Suresh

 

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