Union Budget 2023: Industry lauds focus on R&D

Pharma leaders and experts share their views on Union Budget 2023 and give insights on the impact of the measures

The latest initiatives to promote investments in R&D and healthcare infrastructure, as stated by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the 2023–24 Union Budget, are a step in the right direction. Launching industry-specific new age courses as part of the redesigned Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 is a strong start towards supporting a sustainable life science ecosystem in terms of skill development. The suggested emphasis on interdisciplinary courses in cutting-edge research, high-end manufacturing, and medical technologies is a step in the right way toward empowering the workforce with the most up-to-date skills required for the pharma and biopharma sectors. Innovations will be sparked by the proposal that some ICMR Labs would be open for collaborative research between public and private enterprises. We welcome these measures and look forward to their successful implementation.

– Dhananjay Singh, Head – Science and Lab Solutions, Merck Life Science

An inclusive Budget from the Finance Minister with a boost to critical areas such as education, agriculture, healthcare, environment, digital, start-ups, skilling and others. For pharma, announcements on a new programme to promote research and innovation through centres of excellence, collaboration with the ICMR laboratories, encouragement to investment in R&D point to much-anticipated support to innovation in pharma. Allocation of over 2% of GDP to health, dedicated multi-disciplinary courses for medical devices, the mission to eliminate sickle-cell anaemia and centres of excellence for artificial intelligence for cutting-edge solutions were other highlights. We welcome these announcements and look forward to studying the detailed proposals.

– Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories

A new program to promote pharmaceutical research & development (R&D) will help spur investment in innovations that can address areas of high disease burden and unmet health needs in India. This is a long-awaited move, and we hope such a program will provide sustained incentives for investment so that the Indian pharmaceutical industry becomes a global hub for both discovery and development work.

Another critical requirement in India’s journey to provide healthcare for all has been to augment health system resources and medical personnel. The move to introduce 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with existing medical colleges will help relieve pressures on doctors and in the long term, increase health system capacity. This will facilitate greater and faster access to primary and preventive healthcare.

Manoj Saxena, MD, Bayer Zydus Pharma

Concerning health matters, in the Budget 2023-2024, It would be greatly beneficial if the government focuses on providing some tax relief to spur innovation and research in lowering the production cost that could potentially assist pharma owners in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems to provide better and faster health solutions across the country. Consequently, incentives or tax breaks could also encourage the development of new special regulatory measures to promote the Indian pharmaceutical industry’s continued expansion while preparing the country for any other foreseeable health crisis.

~ Dr Gagan Bhatia, Unimarck Pharma India

The pharma sector has played a crucial role in India’s economic development, especially during and post the pandemic. We welcome the government’s continued focus on boosting this sector, helping spur demand and growth. R&D is a crucial component for the continued growth and success of the pharmaceutical and API manufacturing industry. The allocation of funds for R&D for the sector is aligned with our expectations. We are glad to witness that the government is allied with the pharmaceutical industry in helping India become a global innovator. It will help the industry in discovering new and innovative technologies, consumer-centric solutions and developing evolved processes, resulting in improvements in efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness in the global market. Additionally, this can foster a culture of innovation within a company and the industry attracting and retaining talented scientists, engineers, and other professionals. We are optimistic about the future and look forward to working with the government to continue the growth of this important sector for the Indian economy.

Manoj Mehrotra, President, Hikal

The decision to come up with a new agenda to promote research and innovation in the pharmaceutical space through centres of excellence is a step in the right direction. We also welcome the move to make facilities of Indian Council of Medical Research labs available for private sector R&D as it will boost collaborative research and pave the way for advanced medical facilities. If backed by favourable incentives and concessions, these Budget announcements will encourage pharma companies to invest more in R&D through private-public collaborations. We hope the proposed blueprint for pharmaceutical research serves as the impetus to propel India to the top as a global pharma superpower through value creation based on cutting-edge research.

– Saransh Chaudhary, President, Global Critical Care, Venus Remedies, and CEO, Venus Medicine Research Centre

The Budget is growth-oriented. The Government expenditure on capital has gone up significantly however fiscal deficit targets are in line with expectations. The life sciences and medical sector will stand to benefit greatly with the impetus on innovation and R&D. The PRIP announcement in the budget speech is a step in the right direction. The move to open select ICMR labs for research programmes by public and private companies will help in strengthening the R&D ecosystem in the country. Setting up of Centres of Excellence for innovation and the Government’s initiatives to encourage investments in R&D will go a long way in bringing Indian Innovation to the forefront. The medical devices sector will also stand to gain from the new multidisciplinary courses which will be introduced as they will bring in skilled talent and enable high technology and promote research and manufacturing of these technologies in India.

The Government’s announcement on eliminating Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047 is also a much needed step. This disease is prevalent in several parts of India and almost 70 per cent of children under the age of five years get afflicted by the disease. At Zydus Hospitals Dahod we have set up a dedicated centre to help patients suffering from Sickle Cell Anaemia. We need to address this health concern on a war footing.

– Pankaj R Patel, Chairman, Zydus Lifesciences

OPPI would like to congratulate the government on the 2023-24 Union Budget tabled by the Finance Minister. The budget has brought much optimism to the healthcare and pharma sector by putting the focus on research and innovation. With the announcement of a new program for research in the pharma industry being formulated, there is immense potential for the sector to remain competitive in providing quality healthcare to its people. Moreover, the impetus for public-private collaborations showcases the government’s emphasis on providing faster solutions to India’s health challenges. As OPPI, we are looking forward to putting in all our resources and aligning with the government to achieve the objective of healthcare for all.

Vivek Sehgal, DG, OPPI

The Indian pharma industry is a knowledge-driven sector with R&D being core to the growth. The Union Budget 2023 aims to provide stimulus towards innovation with the announcement of the promotion of research and innovation programme in pharmaceuticals through Centres of Excellence. In FY23, the healthcare expenditure on GDP has gone up to 2.1 per cent from 1.4 per cent in FY19. The Government has announced further strengthening healthcare infrastructure with a focus on increasing Nursing Colleges, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Skilling and Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission. The positive thrust on research and innovation is a welcome move to take India to the next level. The emphasis on healthcare is a significant step for India’s overall development given its demographic profile.”

– Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance

The Budget 2023-24 has showcased immense focus on the Indian pharma industry with the announcement of the new R&D program. To support this, the exponential increase in allocation towards such schemes will be a driving force in strengthening India’s global position not only as a manufacturing hub but also promoting India as a prime investment location for pharma R&D. The announcement of three artificial intelligence centres of excellence to enable ‘Make AI for India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’ will be a huge step forward in addressing future-ready infrastructure requirements, skilled labour, and overall industry innovation. Furthermore, the emphasis on medical device skilling is a move in the right direction for the expansion of the healthcare-pharma ecosystem.

– Shyamakant Giri, MD & President, India Business and Emerging Markets, Amneal Healthcare

The Budget has given a great boost to the pharma industry in terms of R&D. Introduction of this scheme through various centers of excellence (CoE) will also help attract industry players to invest in R&D. Dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions will ensure availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing and research. Overall this is a much-needed force for the pharma sector.

– Vijay Chawla, Partner and Head, Life Sciences, and Head, Risk Advisory, KPMG India

Quantitively, the budget is in line with the ongoing economic reforms. The middle class will have more disposable income, propelling more expenditure by them. The proposed spend on infrastructure will further propel growth. Qualitatively, there is even more in the budget, showing the government’s stride towards getting reforms which will change the thinking of citizens, getting more transparency into the system, thereby fortifying the path towards making India a superpower as well as self-reliant.

– Rajiv Gandhi, Chairman FICCI Gujarat Council and founder & CEO, Hester Biosciences

The announcement of providing investment and setting up centres of excellence to promote research and development in Pharma is much needed and will help India move up the value chain in the Life Sciences sector. The focus on providing skilled manpower availability for high-end research and manufacturing in the medical technology sector will help India become more self-reliant and reduce the current high dependence on imports.

– Charu Sehgal, Partner, Lifesciences & Healthcare Leader, Deloitte India

The budgetary allocation of Rs. 891.6 billion for the healthcare sector for FY2024 translates to 12.6 per cent YoY growth compared to the RE for FY2023. The roll-out of new programmes to promote R&D in the sector through centres of excellence and select ICMR lab facilities being made available for medical colleges and the private sector is a progressive step towards improving public-private partnerships and thus overall thrust on R&D. Further, setting up of new nursing colleges, and introduction of multi-disciplinary courses for medical devices is expected to increase the availability of skilled manpower in the healthcare and medical devices sectors. This is a welcome step given the severe shortage of skilled manpower in India as compared to the global average and other developing nations.

Overall, the budget aims at increasing spending on the sector, improving universal health coverage, promoting R&D, and increasing skilled manpower, which is a positive. That said, continuing modest allocation towards the healthcare sector leaves India’s healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP well below the world average and other developing and developed nations.

– Shamsher Dewan, Senior VP & Group Head – Corporate Ratings, ICRA

The New Pharma Programme for R&D should provide impetus to reach the next level of being a global leader for the sector by increasing productivity and specialisation and also rationalising the costs of pharma products.

– Rajitha Boorugu, Partner- Indirect Tax, BDO India

The mission mode programme to eradicate sickle cell anaemia can be tremendously impactful. Such programmes are a marathon and not a sprint yet can create a fantastic template for programmes for other diseases like curable blindness in subsequent years. Also glad to see the focus on research and development in the pharma sector which is a much-needed push to ensure a local ecosystem of innovation is created in India to make us self-reliant. One of the centres of excellence we would certainly like to see is a plug-and-play GMP manufacturing infrastructure for startups in the biotech space. Overall, very pleased to see a deliberate method to nudge the Indian private and public ecosystem towards innovation and partnership.

– Dr Jogin Desai, CEO & Co-Founder, Eyestem

We appreciate that the union budget 2023 has considered the industry’s request for incentives to boost R&D investments by introducing a new program for pharma research.

We were expecting separate allocations for formulation and APIs. We await to see further details on this announcement.

This is important to build the Indian pharmaceutical industry to evolve and shine on the world stage. The collaboration of ICMR labs with various private sector R&D teams in addition to public and private medical colleges is again a welcome move as it will ensure that quality research can be carried out nationwide.

Sanjeev Jain, MD, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

The 2023–24 Union Budget witnessed some major announcements for the pharmaceutical industry. Firstly, encouraging clinical researchers to collaborate by providing ICMR facilities is an excellent initiative for bringing in diverse areas of expertise and enhancing ideas that can drive the development of new treatments and therapies that can have a positive impact on patient outcomes.

This initiative will also enable researchers to gain access to newer technologies, tools, and platforms that can enhance their ability to generate new insights and innovations. Furthermore, introducing newer programmes to promote research and innovation through a centre of excellence for the pharma industry will be game-changing. The centre of excellence can serve as a hub for resources, data, and expertise, improving the efficiency and speed of research and development, and these programmes will create an entity for researchers, scientists, and industry leaders to collaborate, which thereby strengthens the research and innovation capabilities.

Sanjay Vyas, Executive VP, India Country Head, Parexel

The Union Budget 2023-24 is a pro-growth budget having a strong focus on green growth that will act as a key motivator for businesses to accelerate their shift towards net-zero goals and boost sustainable growth. There is a significant push to capital expenditure which will further attract private investment. With the government’s core focus on urban development, infrastructure investment, employment creation and green growth, the intentions have been clear to steer India’s journey towards sustainable development. The budget has also captured important aspects such as the target to reach green hydrogen production of 5MMT by 2030, implementing many programs for green growth across various economic sectors as well as create green jobs, allocation of 10000cr/year investment on urban infrastructure development and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 that will further fuel economic growth and empower our youth. Overall, in my view, the budget will serve as the blueprint to make India self-reliant and drive long-term economic growth with ecological sustainability.

B Santhanam, CEO, Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain and Chairman, Saint-Gobain India

Madam FM has successfully carried out a fine balancing act, as she managed to take care of the interests of all stakeholders with the last budget prior to the general elections. Quoted as the first budget of ‘Amrit Kaal’, it can be safely termed as a populist one, with initiatives for the corporates as well as the common man.

While the agriculture sector received the required boost through the Agriculture Accelerator Fund, the setting up of Bio-Input Resource Centres and the Digital Public Infrastructure is expected to boost farmer-centric solutions and improve access to farm inputs. As a result, the sector is expected to be transformed with increasing productivity and improved crop quality, actively contributing to the fulfilment of the demand for nutritious food.

Further, the announcement of the setting up of new laboratories for developing applications and excellence centres for artificial intelligence satisfies the healthcare industry’s demand for innovation through R&D efforts. Additionally, this may encourage industry participation in conducting interdisciplinary research and developing cutting-edge technology for the industry’s sustainable growth.

– Sanjaya Mariwala, Executive Chairman and MD, OmniActive Health Technologies India and Founder President, Association of Herbal and Nutraceutical Manufacturers of India (AHNMI)


Akums Drugs & PharmaceuticalsBDO IndiaDeloitte IndiaDr Reddy's LaboratoriesEyestemHikalICRAOPPIUnimarck PharmaUnion Budget 2023Venus RemediesZydus Lifesciences
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