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Biotechnology Industry in India

November, 2012


The Indian biotechnology sector is one of the fastest growing knowledge-based sectors in India and is expected to play a key role in shaping India's rapidly developing economy. With 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 Indian biotech industry grew threefold in five years to report revenues of US$ 3 billion during 2009-11, a rise of 17 per cent over the previous year, according to the eighth annual survey conducted by the Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE) and a monthly journal, BioSpectrum.

India has many assets in its strong pool of scientists and engineers, vast institutional network, and cost effective manufacturing. There are more than 300 college level educational and training institutes across the country offering degrees and diplomas in biotechnology, bio-informatics and the biological sciences, producing nearly 500,000 students on an annual basis.

India is recognised as a mega bio-diversity country. Biotechnology in India offers opportunities to convert the biological resources into economic wealth and employment opportunities. Innovative products and services that draw on renewable resources bring greater efficiency into industrial processes, check environmental degradation and deliver a more bio-based economy.

In fact, India has been ranked among the top 12 biotech destinations worldwide and third largest in the Asia-Pacific region. Key segments in the Indian biotechnology industry:

  • Bio-pharma
  • Bio-services
  • Bio-agri
  • Bio-industrial
  • Bio-informatics

Market Size

The biopharma sector contributed nearly three-fifth to the total industry's revenues at US$ 1.9 billion, a rise of 12 per cent, followed by bioservices at US$ 573 million and bioagri at US$ 420.4 million. The remaining revenue came from the bioindustrials and bioinformatics segments, US$ 122.5 million and US$ 50.2 million, respectively. Biopharma and bioservices sectors contributed 63 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, to the total biotech exports. The bioagriculture, bioindustrials and bioinformatics sectors remained focussed on domestic operations, bringing in nearly 90 per cent of their revenues from India. While the industry, spanning bio-pharma and agri-biotech, accounted for US$ 3 billion, the equipment and ancillary segment contributed around US$ 1 billion.

India's biotechnology sector grew 33 per cent in FY11 and is expected to reach US$ 10 billion revenue by 2015 from US$ 3 billion. ABLE has chalked out a plan to make biotech a US$ 100 billion industry by 2025. A report ‘Indian Biotechnology: The Roadmap to the Next Decade and Beyond’ has been submitted to the Union Department of Biotechnology.

Biofuels would also offer a huge growth opportunity in biotech, according to Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon.


Investments, along with outsourcing activities and exports, are key drivers for growth in the biotech sector.

The drugs and pharmaceuticals sector attracted foreign direct investments (FDI) worth Rs 229.45 crore (US$ 41.63 million) in the month of May 2012.

Some of the major investments in the sector are as follows:

  • India's biotechnology company Biocon has entered into an agreement with the US-based Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to further develop its IN-105, an oral insulin product
  • GE Capital has picked up 7.69 per cent stake in Syngene, a subsidiary of Biocon, for Rs 125 crore (US$ 22.68 million). Syngene, a contract research organisation, is into drug discovery and development services
  • ABLE and US-based Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enable co-operation in the field of biotechnology
  • Biocon has entered into a partnership with Manipal Education Malaysia (MEM) for an internship and graduate employment program for students of Manipal International University, who will be trained and employed in Biocon's Malaysian factory
  • Abbott Laboratories will collaborate with Bangalore-based Biocon to establish a R&D centre to develop nutrition products in India. Abbott Nutrition Centre India will work with Syngene, the contract research arm of Biocon, to develop affordable products for maternal, child nutrition and diabetes care
  • MSD, the Indian unit of US-based pharmaceutical major Merck, plans to set up a laboratory for developing vaccines with an investment of US$ 150 million. The lab, MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories (the Hilleman Labs), is a joint venture between Merck & Co, Inc (which operates in India as MSD Pharmaceuticals) and the Wellcome Trust (a London-headquartered research charity)