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17th edition of BioAsia 2020 held in Hyderabad

The 17th edition of the annual flagship event of Government of Telangana, BioAsia, witnessed the participation of around 2,100 delegates and visitors representing 37 countries

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The 17th edition of BioAsia 2020 was recently held in Hyderabad. The three-day global forum at HICC, Hyderabad was inaugurated by KT Rama Rao, Minister for Industries and commerce & IT, Government of Telangana. With the theme of ‘Today for Tomorrow’, the annual flagship event of Government of Telangana, BioAsia, focussed on how innovations and technological disruptions are re-shaping the global life sciences sector.

Rao also inaugurated the international exhibition wherein 160 organisations exhibited their innovations and developments from the fields of medtech, pharma, biotech and healthcare. During the inaugural ceremony, the organising committee of BioAsia 2020 bestowed the Genome Valley Excellence Award 2020 to Dr Carl H June, the pioneer of CAR-T Cell therapy for cancer treatment and the Professor of Richard W Vague in Immunotherapy, Dept of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, USA. The award was presented to Dr June for his exemplary contributions to the global life sciences industry.

BioAsia 2020 witnessed over 2,000 delegates from industry, government, scientist community, academia and start-ups representing 37 countries. About 800 corporates in which about 350 CXO level officers and about 100 global speakers also participated. The event also hosted eminent global leaders from the life sciences industry including Vas Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis, Dr Carl H June, CAR-T Pioneer, Dr Peter Piot, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Co-Discoverer of Ebola, Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group, Dilip Shanghvi, Chairman, Sun Pharma, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon, Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, among others.
During the event, an MoU was signed between Dr Peter Piot, Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce & IT, Government of Telangana.
Commenting on the key aspects of BioAsia 2020, Shakthi Nagappan, CEO, BioAsia and Director, Life Sciences, Government of Telangana said, “We are so excited to see the overwhelming response from the global delegates who have come in large numbers. Especially, more than 350 CXO level officials are attending the global convention is a testimony of BioAsia whose stature is being upgraded year after year. In its journey of 17 years, BioAsia has emerged as one of the finest global bio-business fora for innovations and developments in the fields of biotechnology, pharma and life sciences”.

The global consulting firm – Ernst & Young (E&Y) on the inaugural day of BioAsia 2020 unveiled its exclusive report on Life Sciences industry at BioAsia – ‘Today for tomorrow: Realising the potential of Life Sciences 4.0’ – in which it explained how Indian pharma companies are preparing themselves to shift from supplying commodities to supplying innovations, technology is altering the way health care is imagined and delivered.

In the presence of Rao, WeHub and the University of Basel signed an MoU to promote women in leadership roles and women entrepreneurship, as well as on innovation ecosystem engagement. This was facilitated by Swissnex India as part of Switzerland’s continuous engagement with the Government of Telangana.

The second day witnessed high-profile deliberations and discussions on hot current topics of the global life sciences industry. The highlight of the day was CEO Conclave chaired by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce and Industry, Government of India which was moderated by Rao. The industry stalwarts and panellists including Dr Narasimhan, Shanghvi, Reddy, Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group and Jan Van Acker, President, Emerging Markets, Human Health, MSD Pharma discussed and deliberated on ‘Playing catch-up or preparing to lead?’ of the CEOs, by the CEOs’ in which they focussed on being leader in generics, how can India leverage its strengths in generics, vaccines and tech industry to win the race further. They suggested as to where should India place its bet to compete against the likes of China, Israel etc., and what should be India’s long-term sustainability strategy in the evolving geopolitical and regulatory environment etc.

During the discussion, Rao highlighted the issues of price controls, withdrawal of incentives and delay and lack of coordination between the state and the central government agencies. Goyal assured the industry and the minister that he would conduct a meeting during the second week of March 2020 to address all the issues pertaining to the industry by meeting the leaders of the industry.

Prior to the CEO Conclave, the Genome Valley Excellence Award 2020 was bestowed upon Dr Narasimhan. Followed by this event, Dr Narasimhan delivered his keynote address on ‘Blockbuster to niche-buster – igniting innovation across healthcare’. Vas announced the launch of ‘Biome India’, a digital innovation hub at its Hyderabad’s centre, the first time in Asia.

Dr June delivered his keynote address on ‘Era of Living Medicine – from pills to cell and gene therapies – journey so far, and the future ahead’ in which he elaborated how CAR-T therapy has led to a new paradigm in cancer treatment which has the potential to treat many more diseases in the coming future and explained how can we bring these sort of individualised therapies accessible to the masses in a fireside chat with Mazumdar Shaw.

In the wake of Corona virus outbreak in China, a session on ‘Affordable innovations to better tackle global health emergencies’, Dr Piot highlighted the issues, challenges and opportunities involved in effectively handling the global health emergencies. Dr Piot elaborated the Corona virus outbreak that caused the sixth global emergency in the past decade and how to prepare to manage the emergency proactively. An important panel discussion held on ‘Collaborative R&D – Unlocking the potential of Public-Private Partnership’ where panellists like Jonathan Hunt, CEO, Syngene International, Dr Subodh Deshmukh, Global Head of Product Development, Sandoz, Dr Srinivas S Rao, Global Head, Translational in vivo models global research platform, Sanofi, USA, Krishna Kanumuri, CEO and MD, Sai Life Sciences, Prof Govardhan Mehta, Distinguished Professor, School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad among others participated. Dr Ajit Shetty, Corporate VP – Global Operations, J&J, USA (Retd.) moderated the
session.

In an another important session on ‘What’s next for the Indian Life Sciences Industry’, the panellists including A Vaidheesh, VP South Asia & MD, GSK, Dr Krishna Ella, CMD, Bharat Biotech, Dr Satyanarayana Chava, Founder and CEO, Laurus Labs, Rehan Khan, MD, MSD Pharmaceuticals, Dr Sudarshan Jain, Secretary-General, Indian Pharma Alliance (IPA), Suresh Pattathil, CEO, Ferring Pharmaceuticals deliberated on the future of Indian life sciences sector where Peter Behner, EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Transactions Leader moderated the
session.
On the third day of the event, Rao, the chief guest, handed over start-up awards, including a cash award, to five successful start-up companies selected from over 75 shortlisted companies and over 350 applications received. As part of the start-up stage event, top five start-ups including Lycan 3D, Callzy, Oncosimis Biotech, Heamac Healthcare, Flexmotiv Technologies were given an opportunity to showcase their innovative solutions that may likely bring in disruptions in the life sciences sector.

Rao also handed over land allotment letters to five MedTech companies who are setting up their units at MedTech Park in Hyderabad. While delivering his closing remarks, Rao appreciated the organisers for making BioAsia 2020 as ‘One-of-it’s-kind event’ in the life sciences industry which has grown in size, stature and in terms of value. “I will look forward to seeing BioAsia 2021 which will eventually be even bigger and better,” he added.

Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister for Science and Technology, Government of Odisha graced as Guest of Honour of the event. A spotlight issue was discussed on ‘Women in Life Sciences, Healthcare and Tech – the journey from Aspire to Inspire’ where the panellists like Dr Swati Piramal, Dr Christiane Hamacher, CEO, Biocon Biologics, Dr Alenka Stefani Petek, Head, Sandoz Development Centre, India and Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India spoke about their roles and the success stories. Pamela Spence, Partner, EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Leader moderated the session where inspirational stories were told.

In order to provide a platform which can enable aspiring entrepreneurs to test their innovative ideas in the field of medical technologies, Government of Telangana and MedTechConnect, a platform founded by Cyient and Xynteo’s India2022 coalition, have joined hands together to launch a new initiative called Project Tej. A panel discussion was held on ‘Fuelling innovation in MedTech R&D’ in which the panellists discussed on how the new technologies are reshaping medical devices as medtech is fast evolving in the therapeutic area, instead of being restricted only to diagnostics. Since these devices are developed using AI-based algorithms aimed at improving access, affordability and accuracy, Medtech companies need to develop the right strategies to remain relevant for tomorrow while regulatory bodies need to enable the latest breakthrough innovations, the panel opined.

Another important panel discussion on ‘Smart Manufacturing and supply chain – Moving up the value chain’ the panellists from big pharma companies like Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s highlighted the need for investments into technologies that can enable pharma manufacturing and supply chains becoming smarter and relevant for future competence. Addressing the concerns of Indian pharma companies regarding increased scrutiny and rising warning letters and form 483s, Dr Sarah Mc Mullen, Deputy Director, US FDA India Office said that the companies should be open and transparent with the regulatory in providing the adequate information and comprehensive response within a stipulated period of 15 days from the observations found to address their concerns. As part of BioAsia 2020, Intel announced its ‘Intel AI Applied Research Centre’ in Hyderabad and Rao officially inaugurated its centre from the dais of the global convention. The minister also handed over land allotment letters to five companies — Jagore Life Sciences, Majik Medical Solutions, Arni Medica, Trident Technologies and Pulse Pharmaceuticals, which are going to set up their units in MedTech Park in Hyderabad.

EP News Bureau

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