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Increasing number of biologics losing patents presents India with great opportunity

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Shakthi M Nagappan, Director (Life Science and Pharma), Government of Telangana, speaks on the BIO Asia International Conference, its highlights this year, the state’s initiatives to further growth in the lifesciences industry and more, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

How is BioAsia 2019 coming up? There is an interesting theme this year, ‘Disrupt the Disruption,’ what does it entail?

BioAsia 2019 is shaping up very well indeed. This will be the 16th edition and will be held from February 25-27, 2019 in Hyderabad International Convention Center. Over the years, the event has gained significant stature and prestige, and witnesses’ participation from industry and scientific leaders from over 50 countries year-on-year. The event has emerged as the biggest event in the country in every perspective, in terms of footfalls, B2B meetings, business transactions, working group discussions, participation of global thought leaders etc. Each year, the event has overarching theme, which is opportune and relevant to the sector. The theme for this year BioAsia is ‘Life Sciences 4.0 – Disrupt the Disruption’ and we have received enthusiastic response from the industry. The event will focus on reimagining healthcare as a result of technological advances.

How will this year’s event help the state leverage its capabilities in both technology and life sciences?

In recent years, the rapid application of digital and other technological advances to life sciences and healthcare is leading to exciting new applications. Traditional ways of doing business are being challenged by new entrants. In this context, BioAsia 2019 will focus on reimagining healthcare as a result of these new developments. We have carefully curated sessions around the overarching theme of Life Sciences 4.0 in which we shall deliberate the opportunities in healthcare with the advent of technology. Also, to showcase the latest technology, the event will feature a ‘Scientific Enabler Pavilion’, being organised in partnership with CCMB, DRILS and IICT to showcase the next-gen technologies and familiarise the scientific community with the latest equipment. There is an increased focus on startups with a considerable number of Health tech startups in the Startup Stage at BioAsia. About 100 disruptive start-ups will be showcased at the event. This initiative is intended at providing senior life science professionals an opportunity to experience the wide variety of technical developments in the field at one place.

So, how does the state intend to encourage and build better synergies between technology and life sciences industries?

Hyderabad, being a hub of both life sciences and technology companies, has a natural advantage to benefit from these synergies and the state government is committed to build capabilities in this regard.  The government has set out an ambitious target of doubling the value of life sciences ecosystem in 10 years with creation of about 400,000 new jobs and as part of the vision, initiatives around ‘Digital Medicine’ will have significant emphasis.

One of the biggest pharma clusters in Asia is coming up in Hyderabad. How will it help propel the pharma and biotech industries to the next level of growth?

Hyderabad Pharma City is a flagship initiative of the state government, envisaged in order to respond to the changing global environment for pioneering pharma manufacturing investments and R&D, and consolidate the leadership position of Telangana as the pharma capital. The project is estimated to attract ` 64,000 crores in investments, generating an annual export potential of `58,000 crores including direct and indirect employment generation of 1.70 lakhs and 3.86 lakhs respectively. Pharma City will be the world’s largest integrated pharma cluster spread over 19,000 acres on par with international standards. With concepts like zero liquid discharge, common effluent treatment facility, regulatory enclave, 24/7 water and power supply, dedicated land for social infrastructure like housing, entertainment and commerce, among others, the cluster will create a new global benchmark for efficient and sustainable industrial clusters.

How will BioAsia 2019 promulgate and encourage innovation to build the novel drugs and devices and create new business models in the life sciences industry?

As part of BioAsia, it’s been our endeavour to showcase start-ups and innovative ideas with a potential to address the unmet healthcare needs. The 2019 event will have an increased focus on start-ups with a decided platform called ‘Start-up Stage’, which will bring together about 100 most cutting-edge and innovative start-ups from the realm of pharma, bio-tech, life sciences, health-tech and med-tech sectors. We are delighted with the enthusiastic response from the life sciences industry leaders, venture capital and angel investor community and the corporate M&A teams of leading pharma & bio-tech companies. Recognising the importance of the encouraging start-ups, reputed organisations like BIRAC, CoE-IOT- NASSCOM, TSIC, T-Hub, swissnex, IKP Knowledge Park and Startup India, have come together with Government of Telangana in organising the ‘Start-up Stage’ at BioAsia. The Disruptors Roundtable will be chaired by industry luminaries for a focussed interaction with startups to provide insights and guidance on several emerging healthcare challenges.

Biosimilars is one of the focus areas in the programme. What can the audience expect from the deliberations?

India has emerged as a world leader in bringing generic drugs to the market in a cost-effective way and most recently, have also demonstrated the capability to develop biosimilars for global healthcare markets. While it is encouraging to see Indian companies making an entry in the global map of biosimilars, there is a lot of room for additional growth. Increasing number of biologics losing patents presents India with a great opportunity. Hence, the event will feature a session focussed on biosimilar development and commercialisation strategies. Leaders from companies who are at the forefront of biosimilars development like Intas Pharma, Reliance Life Sciences, Lupin, among others will talk about their experience and deliberate on the road ahead.

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