Dr GM Warke, Founder, CMD, HiMedia Laboratories, in an exclusive interview with Swati Rana, spoke about the company’s journey and its upcoming project with DBT
HiMedia is almost four decades old. How has the journey been so far?
The journey of Make in India biosciences products was started by us about 42 years ago. The expedition was very challenging, inspiring and satisfying as well. We have our state-of-art R&D set up; strong, enthusiastic research team with innovative ideas and high-end technology. The company, which was started with barely five to six products in microbiology, now has diversified and flourished with other wings of biosciences, animal cell culture, plant tissue culture, molecular biology, agro industry and so on. HiMedia currently has a strong portfolio of 4500 supplying products to many industries such as pharmaceutical, agriculture, clinical and health sector, brewery and fermentation, environmental and sanitary, textile, petroleum, cosmetics, food, dairy, veterinary and biotechnology segments of biosciences. HiMedia has consistently provided exemplary services to all the biosciences segments at reasonable prices.
How do you assure the quality, sustainability and affordability of your product in the Indian market?
Over the past four decades, we faced intense competition from more than 40 companies. However, we have been able to sustain due to the unchallenged quality of our products, prompt technical services and moreover, wide range of products including microbiology, cell culture and molecular biology. To provide quick solution to our esteemed customers, if they feel they are facing certain challenges in our products, we try our best to immediately provide replacement instead of wasting time in sequential analysis. Of course simultaneously, we begin root cause analysis of the issues faced by the customers. HiMedia is always focussed on the common man needs and on how they can benefit from our knowledge and experience.
Tell us about your manufacturing capacity and capabilities.
At present, we have six WHO-GMP certified manufacturing facilities in Maharashtra spread across Nashik, Ambernath and Dombivali, where in hi-tech and advanced machines have been installed. We have invested around
Rs. 120 crores in the past five years for such cutting-edge equipment facility. We are constantly updating and upgrading our manufacturing units so as to satisfy the needs of global demand. To achieve this, we are increasing our per day manufacturing capacity of ready prepared cultured media plates by about five folds by 2018. For this, our new production unit for ready prepared cultured media plates is being set up near Mumbai. Apart from this, we are expanding and upgrading our Nashik plant with new technology to produce 10-12 fold greater amount of dry powder over our existing capacity.
What are the challenges faced by the company?
In pursuit of the Make in India dream, obtaining a license and recognition of our products in the domestic and global market was a very difficult task in the beginning, as these products were imported from other countries such as the US and the UK. Very few manufacturing units were present in India at that time.They were unable to compete with the foreign companies then especially in terms of quality and cost of the products. Urge for cost-effective quality products and market scenario were the major motivations for us, which led to the foundation of indigenous manufacturing unit of HiMedia in India in 1976. Keeping the promise of ‘Excellent Quality’, HiMedia presently caters esteemed patrons globally with a comprehensive range of sophisticated, word-class quality products at competitive prices, for excellent and accurate results. Today, HiMedia is a leading biosciences company and have a 90 per cent market share in India.
Which countries do you export to and how much does export contributes to your annual turnover?
We are an aggressively growing industry and at present, we are exporting to more than 150 countries, including Japan, the US, European countries, Russia, other Asian Countries, Brazil and Argentina. We have our own warehouses in the US and Germany to quickly deliver the products to the US, Canada, Europe and other neighbouring countries. We also have our presence in strategically located centre, Dubai, which can cater to the Middle East and African countries. There is a massive demand for HiMedia products worldwide. Understanding this global demand, we would like to open our warehouses in Thailand and Philippines to cater to the nearby countries. Currently, HiMedia is generating sales revenue of over Rs. 500 crore of which 35 per cent revenue is generated through exports
According to you, what steps should the government take to ease exports?
We truly appreciate the efforts taken by Government of India for encouraging, Make in India concept and its development. Moreover, there is further scope to encourage indigenous companies, to export more Make in India products by reconsidering certain rules so as to speed up the delivery of the products. This will help us to increase foreign revenues. Concerned officials perhaps need to work more closely with medium to large Indian origin companies to understand these challenges which would definitely increase the export, generating more foreign currency.
Tell us about the USP of HiMedia.
Urge for innovative products, supplying excellent quality and exclusive products at reasonable price has been the main USP of HiMedia, ever since its inception. Our R&D team is always on the toes and is driven for constant innovations and quality enhancement. Hence, we have successfully invented many unique products which are not available with our competitors. We are the first manufacturer of certain unique products such as HiVeg, having highest purity.
What is the annual turnover of the company and how much do you invest in R & D?
As R&D is our core strength, approximately 10 per cent of our sales revenue is devoted to R&D. We also plan to surge it beyond that, to upgrade our technology for inventing novel products. We have gone to the next level with respect to innovations. We have invented many synthetic media wherein raw materials from vegetable or animal sources are not used, which is supporting to the green revolution.
Tell us about your project with DBT.
It has been revealed by several experts that innovation in biosciences can make it a bigger industry and also it’s envisaged that without basic research the country will always remain knowledge deficient. Therefore, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has developed very strong benches for basic and applied research in modern biology. Moreover, several biotech parks and incubation centres have been established by DBT and are fully operational. DBT is really a back-bone for scientists/industrial R&D’s like ours and others in India who are willing to develop new technologies for the mankind. HiMedia in collaboration with a couple of premier academic institutes have been exploring certain key projects with Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), which is a not-for-profit set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India. The proposed projects are under the scheme of affordable product development.
Which products are in the pipeline?
Strength of HiMedia is R&D, due to which the company could flourish and possess broad series of products in all the segments of biosciences. Henceforth, we will keep launching numerous new products persistently in the future. As India is the second hub for FDA approved products, we understand enormous opportunities in pharmaceutical/healthcare industry. As pharma industry is expanding at almost 18-20 per cent CAGR, we are also expanding our portfolio in this segment, especially the supply of varieties of ready prepared media. Recently, HiMedia has ventured into hydroponics business and working aggressively in this sector.
What is the company’s road map for the next three years?
With the mission of “BioSciences in the service of Humankind” and vision “Quality First” HiMedia is working dedicatedly to provide unique, cost-effective, unchallenged quality products and excellent service to our customers worldwide.
At present, HiMedia is one of the leading brands in the world. My directors, fellow scientists, marketing team and other colleagues are striving strategically to make HiMedia the top brand in the world within a span of 5 years. To attain this goal, enhancing quality of products, inventing unique products and supplying these at reasonable prices is always going to be our first priority.