30 Jan 2014, Rahul Koul, BioSpectrum
Since the last few years, the Scottish Development International (SDI) has been actively wooing Indian firms to set up their business processing operations in Scotland. BioSpectrum spoke to Ms Rooma Bussi, country manager, SDI, to get more insights.
What is the current scenario on collaborations between India and Scotland for life sciences sector in last one year?
The collaborations have continued to happen and in fact there has been 30 percent increase for this sector over last few years. We have assisted about 116 Scottish life sciences companies to come over to India for doing business. Few known names among them are Touch Bionics that makes prosthetic hands and limbs, Omega Diagnostics which does business in the diagnostics sector, ClinTec International is a clinical research organization. Also Thistel deals with digital pens for medical fraternity to keep the record of patients.
From Indian side, Piramal Healthcare is among the prominent ones that has its presence in Scotland. Piramal Healthcare's Grangemouth facility is one of a very limited number in the UK and Europe that offers integrated, single-site experience and capabilities across both conventional pharma synthesis and bioprocessing of high potency compounds - a unique combination of skill sets required for successful antibody drug conjugate (ADC) development.
These compounds - antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) - combine a cancer-defeating toxin attached to a specific antibody. They represent a novel means of delivering a synthetic, potent drug to tumour cells while also limiting the drug's effect on normal noncancerous cells and are yielding positive outcomes in previously untreatable cancers. The ADCs are a special focus of Piramal's development and manufacturing facilities in Scotland. Over the period of time, there been a healthy pipeline of trade and investment. Overall the bilateral trade has increased by 15 percent and this is expected to continue for next few years.
What kind of opportunity exists for Indian companies in Scotland?
There is a tremendous scope of partnership between two nations. Scotland has been long having the great academic and industry environment. It has been at the forefront of medical discovery. The oncology segment has great potential due to rising incidents of cancer, The expertise in therapeutic areas, universities and industry collaborations. It is set out to form an internationally recognised cluster of digital health and care technology companies that are capable of targeting global markets and attracting significant inward investment.
At the moment, the pharmaceutical companies worldwide are confronting unprecedented challenges. The drying drug development pipelines are a great area of concern and regulatory hassles are also hampering the industry. Keeping that in mind, we invite the Indian companies to come over and utilize the facilities and favourable environment in Scotland.
How do the Scottish companies look at India? Have the regulatory framework or slumping growth rate affected their interest?
Scotland's expertise is very relevant to India. Scottish companies have innovative technologies. Also, the Scottish companies continue to favour India strongly. That is visible when we speak to them and they have been rating India as third favourable destination after US and China. India despite its decrease in growth rate, has still been able to maintain its charm. Despite its decrease in growth rate, India continues to be an attractive destination.
If you look at US or UK, the markets are shrinking. But at the same time, India has great potential for growth. At current 4.5-to-five percent growth rate, we are still positive. However, it is highly required that the government clarifies its regulatory policies for the investing companies. That is important because it helps the companies to take the long term decisions regarding the investments.
What are your specific areas of focus? What are the activities in India?
We have identified medical technologies as a big market opportunity. The potential areas include digital health and medical devices that said to close to $4.4 billion dollars. As the need of the population expands, the health markets too will require new technologies. We are working with Scottish SMEs for bringing the innovative technologies. Six-to-seven big companies are already having flourishing offices here.
We are involved with Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE) and have collaborated with Bangalore Bio in past. We have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS) to build partnership.