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Biotechnology industry in India

July, 2017

Introduction

The biotechnology sector of India is highly innovative and is on a strong growth trajectory. The sector, with its immense growth potential, will continue to play a 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.

India is among the top 12 biotech destinations in the world and ranks third in the Asia-Pacific region. India has the second-highest number of US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)–approved plants, after the USA and is the largest producer of recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine. Out of the top 10 biotech companies in India (by revenue), seven have expertise in bio-pharmaceuticals and three specialise in agri-biotech.

India has no dearth of talent in biotechnology, as a number of institutions, both government and autonomous, provide the necessary opportunities for the students seeking to obtain a degree in this sector. 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. The biotechnology industry in India, comprising about 800 companies, is expected to be valued at US$ 11.6 billion in 2017. The government has to invest US$ 5 billion to develop human capital, infrastructure and research initiatives if it is to realise the dream of growing the sector into a US$ 100 billion industry by 2025, as per Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Harsh Vardhan.

Biopharma is the largest sector contributing about 62 per cent of the total revenue followed by bio-services (18 per cent), bio-agri (15 per cent), bio-industry (4 per cent), and bio-informatics contributing (1 per cent).

The high demand for different biotech products has also opened up scope for the foreign companies to set up base in India.

India has emerged as a leading destination for clinical trials, contract research and manufacturing activities owing to the growth in the bio-services sector.

Investments

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 and developments in this sector are as follows:

  • The Telangana state government's flagship pharma and biotech event - BioAsia 2017 attracted investments to the tune of Rs 3,382 crore (US$ 507.3 million).
  • During the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit-2017, 54 MoUs worth Rs 5,022 crore (US$ 736.1 million) in the biotechnology sector were signed by 37 companies.
  • Syngene International Ltd, the contract research services arm of Biocon Ltd, is setting up a drug discovery and development center in Bengaluru for Amgen Inc., a biotechnology company based in the US.

Government Initiatives

A Network of Technology Centres and promotion of start-ups by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) are among the steps taken by the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the agro industry proposed by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) in a new scheme. The Government of India has taken several 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 working together in order to project India as a global hub for biotech research and business excellence. Some of the recent major initiatives are as follows:

  • In the Union Budget 2017-18, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) received Rs 2,222.11 crore (US$ 333.31 million), an increase of 22 per cent, to continue implementing the department’s national biotech strategy and target increasing the turnover from the sector to $100 billion by 2025 from $7 billion in 2016.
  • The Telangana government also inked an MoU with PE firm Cerestra to explore a 'Life Sciences Infrastructure Fund' with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore (US$ 150 million) to create a sophisticated modular plug and play infrastructure for pharma, biotech and medical devices industry.

Road Ahead

With the country offering numerous comparative advantages in terms of R&D facilities, knowledge, skills, and cost effectiveness, the biotechnology industry in India has immense potential to emerge as a global key player.

India constitutes around 8 per cent of the total global generics market, by volume, indicating a huge untapped opportunity in the sector. Outsourcing to India is projected to spike up after the discovery and manufacture of formulations. Hybrid seeds, including GM seeds, represent new business opportunities in India based on yield improvement.

India currently has a marginal share in the global market for industrial enzymes. Hence, there is an opportunity in focused R&D and knowledge-based innovation in the field of industrial enzymes, which can innovatively replace polluting chemical processes into eco-friendly processes that also deliver environmental sustainability. Another interesting field of study is the area of bio-markers and companion diagnostics, which will enable to optimise the benefits of biotech drugs.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0155 as of April 17, 2017.

References: Press Information Bureau (PIB), Media Reports and Press Releases, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Department of Biotechnology, Union Budget 2017-18