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Biotechnology Industry in India

December, 2014


The biotechnology sector of India is highly innovative and is on a high growth trajectory. The sector, with its immense growth potential, will continue to play a more significant role as an innovative manufacturing hub. The sector is one of the most significant sectors in enhancing India's global profile as well as contributing to the growth of the economy. This sector is directly or indirectly related to the health as well as the agricultural sector of India.

India is among the top 12 biotech destinations in the world and is the largest producer of recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine. Out of the top 10 biotech companies in India (by revenue), six focus their expertise in bio-pharmaceuticals and four specialise in agri-biotech.
India had recently overtaken Canada to emerge as the fourth largest country to grow biotech or genetically modified (GM) crops, as farmers here planted Bt cotton in about 11 million hectares. The global acreages under GM crops increased to 175.2 million hectares in 2013, about five million hectares more than the previous year.
India also has no dearth of talent in this sector, as a number of institutions, both government and autonomous, provide the necessary opportunities for the student seeking to obtain a degree in this sector. Also, the Government of India has provided adequate scope to this sector by providing facilities for research and development (R&D) in the field of biotechnology.

Market size

The Indian biotech industry holds about 2 per cent share of the global biotech industry. By FY17, India's biotech industry is estimated to increase to US$ 11.6 billion from US$ 4.3 billion in FY12. Presently, India is ranked 12th in the world in biotech and third in Asia-Pacific.

The high demand for different biotech products has also opened up scope for the foreign companies to set up bases and reap great profits.
The biotechnology industry in India, comprising about 400 companies, has grown three-fold in the last five years to reach US$ 4 billion in FY 13. Growing at an average rate of about 20 per cent, India's biotech industry comprising biopharmaceuticals, bioservices, bioagriculture, bioindustry and bioinformatics could reach the US$ 7 billion mark by FY 15.
Biopharma is the largest sector contributing about 62 per cent of the total revenue followed by bioservices (18 per cent), bioagri (15 per cent), bioindustry (four per cent), and bioinformatics contributing (one per cent).
India has emerged as a leading destination for clinical trials, contract research and manufacturing activities owing to the growth in the bioservices sector, which accounts for revenue generation worth about US$ 636.73 million.


India's biotech sector has attracted significant amount of attention over the past two decades. Several global companies have aggressively joined hands with Indian companies due to India's strong generic biotechnology potential. Some of the recent investments in this sector are as follows:

  • Sanofi Pasteur announced on November 10, 2014 the launch of its paediatric pentavalent vaccine Shan5, developed and manufactured by its affiliate Shantha.
  • In a significant development for Kerala-based Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd, the company has received a patent in the United States on BCM-95, a turmeric extract formulation that could be used to target Alzheimer’s disease. Explaining the application patent, Mr Benny Antony, Joint Managing Director of the company said, the product is a re-blend of two ingredients in turmeric, but in a ratio that is not seen in naturally occurring turmeric. It is a reblend of curcuminoid and an essential oil of turmeric, he said.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Syngene International, the contract research subsidiary of Biocon, have announced a five-year extension of their drug discovery and development collaboration in India.
  • The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) through its Centre for Incubation of Technologies (BARCIT) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with M/s Veena Industries, Nagpur, for incubation of technology for biodegradable and edible films for food and pharmaceuticals packaging.
  • Cancer Genetics Inc (CGI) has acquired Hyderabad-based genomics services provider BioServe India for US$ 1.9 million. This will enable CGI to better position themselves globally in personalised cancer care.
  • The Shanghai Jiading Advanced Technology Innovation and Business Incubator has invited Indian technology innovators and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), especially in renewable energy, biomedical devices and advanced manufacturing to set up their businesses in Jiading.
  • Suven Life Sciences Ltd has obtained two patents, one each from Hong Kong and Canada, for its New Chemical Entities (NCEs) for the treatment of disorders associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

Government Initiatives

A Network of Technology Centres and promotion of start-ups by SIDBI are among few of the steps taken by the government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in agro industry proposed by the MSME Ministry in a new scheme. The scheme follows the announcement of a Rs 200 crore (US$ 31.52 million) fund by Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech this year for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in agro industry.

The Government of India has taken a lot of initiatives to improve the biotechnology sector in the country as well as offer enough scope for research in this field. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with other government funded institutions such as National Biotechnology Board (NBTB) and many other autonomous bodies representing the biotechnology sector, are actively working together so as to project India as a global hub for biotech research and business excellence. Some of the recent major initiatives are as follows:

  • CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) has signed an MoU with Phyto Biotech to formalise transfer of technology, for production of unique autoclavable super oxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme, used in cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries for end applications.
  • DBT has announced the Indo-Australian Career Boosting Gold Fellowships under which it will support the researchers to undertake a collaborative research project at a leading science institute or university in Australia for a period of up to 24 months.
  • DBT has allocated Rs 4.6 crore (US$ 724,997.34) to the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) to support a national multi-institutional project titled 'A value chain on jackfruit and its products'.
  • Under the 12th Five Year Plan, the Government of India plans to strengthen regulatory science and infrastructure, which involves setting up of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) and a central agency for regulatory testing and certification laboratories.

Road Ahead

With the country offering numerous comparative advantages in terms of research and development (R&D) facilities, knowledge, skills, and cost effectiveness, the biotechnology industry in India has immense potential to emerge as a global key player.
The growth in gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade will expand the domestic market and Indians will be able to afford healthcare products, and demand for food commodities and energy will grow too. Presently, many countries are looking forward to invest in the Indian biotechnology sector.
India has all the ingredients to become a global leader in affordable healthcare. If there is an annual investment of US$ 4.019 billion to US$ 5.024 billion in the next five years, the biotech industry can grow to US$ 100 billion by 2025, with a 25 per cent return on investment, and set a growth rate of 30 per cent year-on-year.
With all the support, government initiatives and determination to excel, India can soon attain global leadership in providing affordable healthcare and innovative medicines, quality food and feed for all.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0157 as on December 23, 2014

References:Press Information Bureau (PIB), Media Reports and Press Releases, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Department of Biotechnology.